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Number of False Positives

A series of false positive results for SARS-CoV-2 affected a number of Maryland institutions in the fall, the Washington Post reports.

It notes that at Towson University, about 60 students and faculty members tested positive for the virus — just as the semester was about to start — but then tested negative upon follow-up, and that similar scenarios played out at two nursing homes in the area. According to the Post, all the tests were from LabGenomics and processed by a University of Maryland lab. It notes that the tests were purchased by the state with fanfare in April 2020.

The Post adds that the U-Md. lab was running a set of replacement tests it received after an initial batch was found to be flawed and that these results then raised further concerns about the replacement tests. Still, the Post reports that, while U-Md. stopped using these tests, they were sent on to the state public health lab for a short while and then to a private lab for use.

Robert Myers, the director of the public health lab, said in a statement to the Post they "were not able to establish a root cause for the alleged questionable results." The Post adds Mike Ricci, a spokesperson for Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, suggested the issue stemmed from the U-Md. lab, even though an investigation there was not conclusive. U-Md., meanwhile, tells the Post the test results were not false positives and their move to a different test was unrelated.

The Scan

Comfort of Home

The Guardian reports that AstraZeneca is to run more clinical trials from people's homes with the aim of increasing participant diversity.

Keep Under Control

Genetic technologies are among the tools suggested to manage invasive species and feral animals in Australia, Newsweek says.

Just Make It

The New York Times writes that there is increased interest in applying gene synthesis to even more applications.

Nucleic Acids Research Papers on OncoDB, mBodyMap, Genomicus

In Nucleic Acids Research this week: database to analyze large cancer datasets, human body microbe database, and more.