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Same Old Error

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's flawed rollout of SARS-CoV-2 testing this year mirrors its earlier errors in developing a Zika virus test, the Washington Post reports.

In both cases, the Post reports that the agency developed tests that were more complex and less reliable than they needed to be. In the case of Zika, the CDC developed a test that not only detected that virus but also the chikungunya virus and different strains of the virus that causes dengue fever, even though it already had a PCR-based Zika virus-only test. As the Post reports the more complex test — dubbed Trioplex — was less sensitive and missed more than a third of infections.

The agency's issues with its SARS-CoV-2 test this year echo these errors, the Post notes, as, rather than developing a test only for SARS-CoV-2, the CDC included in its assay a pan-coronavirus component. Because of problems with passing quality control checks, that part of the test had to be removed.

"It's painful to watch the same challenges again and again,'' Timothy Persons, the chief scientist at the Government Accountability Office, tells the Post. "As I think we saw with Zika, we need to apply lessons learned to definitely try and respond better."