The COVID-19 diagnosis of the president, first lady and a number of staffers is once again calling into question the use of rapid tests that the White House has screened people with for months. “Their protocols at the White House was that they rely a lot on testing,” Dr. Sanjay Gupta said on CNN.
“You test negative, therefore you’re good to go, you don’t need to abide by other health protocols. That’s simply not true.”
The tests, made by Abbott Laboratories, produce results in just 15 minutes. But there are also growing concerns about the test’s accuracy. One study found it had an unacceptable “false negative” rate of nearly 20%. That means someone close to the president may have tested negative but was actually positive.
Inside Edition spoke to Dr. William Lang, who served as White House physician in the Bush and Clinton administrations.
“All of this is an exercise in risk reduction,” Lang said. “It’s not risk elimination. So rapid tests are not as good as the big, kind of mainframe tests.”
The Trump administration has already sent out nearly four million of the rapid test kits to nursing homes and universities. The White House has also signed a $760 million contract for 150 million more tests.
“If you have negative results, you’re reducing the risk, but you’re not reducing the risk to zero,” Lang said.
In a statement, Abbott Laboratories told Inside Edition, "We wish the President and First Lady a speedy recovery. While we don’t know the details on who was tested and on which devices, we know that more than 11 million Americans have taken the ID NOW test, helping to stop the spread of the virus. We also know from our large post-authorization study that ID NOW demonstrates performance of 95% sensitivity and 98% specificity in people within 7 days post symptom onset."