Florida Cuts Ties With Quest Labs Over Delays, Roche Unveils New COVID-19 ‘Rapid Test’: Live Updates

Florida Cuts Ties With Quest Labs Over Delays, Roche Unveils New COVID-19 ‘Rapid Test’: Live Updates

Tyler Durden

Tue, 09/01/2020 – 16:03


  • Roche plans launch of rapid test in Europe
  • Texas could reopen businesses next week
  • MLB delays another game
  • Florida cuts ties with Quest
  • Arizona cases tick higher
  • Brazil slides back into recession as COVID rages
  • Argentina’s positivity rate surges
  • NYC Mayor strikes deal with teachers unions
  • Dr. Scott Atlas denies “herd immunity” reports
  • Russia cases top 1 million, 4th country to do so
  • New hotspots emerge in Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Alabama
  • India new cases slow after week of record gains as country enters new phase of reopening
  • Sweden considers new local restrictions
  • WHO warns countries can’t just abandon COVID protections
  • Obese people at much higher risk of death, study shows
  • Hong Kong pressures residents to submit to testing scheme

* * *

Update (1540ET): Just days after Abbott unveiled its new 5-minute rapid COVID test, CNBC reported Tuesday that Roche is planning to launch its own rapid COVID test in Europe later this month. The company said it plans to seek emergency use authorization from the FDA – a seal of approval that Abbott’s test has already received.

The antigen test will be used in point-of-care settings for both asymptomatic and symptomatic patients, the company said. It added that the test typically yields results in about 15 minutes.

The company said the test accurately diagnoses an infected Covid-19 patient more than 96% of the time and accurately shows a negative result more than 99% of the time, based on a combined sample size of 426 samples from two separate testing centers.

Roche said the company intends to apply for an emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. At the end of September, the test will be available in countries that recognize the CE regulatory marking, which are the member states of the European Union, it said.

“This can help healthcare professionals identify a SARS-CoV-2 infection in people suspected to carry the virus with results typically ready in 15 minutes,” Roche said in a statement. “In addition, it serves as a valuable initial screening test for individuals that have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 infected patients or a high risk environment.”

The test is meant to be performed by a healthcare professional, the company said, but the advantage is that it does not need to be performed in a clinical lab, cutting down the time it takes to produce results.

Meanwhile, Admiral Brett Giroir told reporters Tuesday that, after purchasing 150 million new rapid COVID tests from Abbott Laboratories, the US government plans to distribute “the overwhelming majority” of the stockpile to the states.

Governors will be able to use the tests to help reopen schools and protect first responders. Distribution is set to begin in mid-September.

As worries about new cases emerging in four states – ND, SD, Iowa and Alabama – grow amid falling numbers out of the Sun Belt, Florida Department of Health announced on Tuesday that it would “cut all ties” with Quest Diagnostics due to chronically late results.

The Florida Department of Health has cut all ties with Quest Diagnostics after the state says the company did not report nearly 75,000 Covid-19 test results dating back to April.

Here’s more from CNN:

The Department of Health said the move was at the direction of Gov. Ron DeSantis. Quest told the state that “all individuals that tested positive were notified of their results.”

“While significant, this unacceptable dump of test results is a data issue and does not impact the health of individuals or the spread of COVID-19 in Florida,” the department stated in a statement.

“The law requires all COVID-19 results to be reported to DOH in a timely manner. To drop this much unusable and stale data is irresponsible. I believe that Quest has abdicated their ability to perform a testing function in Florida that the people can be confident in. As such I am directing all executive agencies to sever their COVID-19 testing relationships with Quest effective immediately,” DeSantis said in the statement.

Quest Diagnostics acknowledged the delay in its own statement, saying in part, “Quest Diagnostics takes seriously our responsibility to report laboratory data to public health authorities in a timely manner to aid pandemic response.”

Due to a technical issue, our reporting of a subset of public health COVID-19 test data to the Florida Department of Health was delayed. This subset involves nearly 75,000 of the approximately 1.4 million COVID-19 tests we have performed and reported to the state,” the statement added.

Quest Diagnostics apologized “for this matter” and went on to say that it regretted “the challenge it poses for public health authorities in Florida.”

Finally, in Texas, the Governor said he could lift restrictions on businesses as soon as next week as hospital admissions continue to drop and the seven-day positivity rate reaches new lows.

Major League Baseball postponed another Oakland Athletics game on Tuesday. MLB had previously postponed the first two games of the team’s series with the Seattle Mariners, and has now elected to reschedule the third and final game of the series as well.

* * *

Update (1245ET): Our attention turns to Latin America Tuesday morning, as Brazil’s economy contracts by a record 9.7% for Q2, plunging the country back into recession.

“GDP is now at the same level as late 2009, at the height of the global financial crisis,” the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) said in a statement.

As far as COVID news goes, Argentina’s coronavirus crisis is only getting worse, as almost 47% of people tested get a positive result back.

Meanwhile, Arizona on Tuesday reported 507 new cases, a 0.3% increase to 202,342 that was just above the 0.2% rise of the prior seven-day period. The state Department of Health Services recorded 15 deaths from COVID-19, bringing the toll to 5,044. The testing positivity rate jumped to 11.1% from 3.5% a day earlier.

* * *

Update (1035ET): NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has finally struck a deal with NYC’s teachers to delay the start of in-person education until Sept. 21, after the city’s teachers unions threatened to go on strike if the city didn’t ensure that “adequate health and safety measures were in place” to protect them against the coronavirus.

De Blasio said he reached agreement with the teachers’ unions to delay the start of the new semester until Sept. 21, instead of Sept. 10.

NYC’s is the country’s biggest school system, and it’s also the only school system with plans to return students to classrooms this semester.

The decision comes just one day after de Blasio decided to delay the layoffs of 22,000 city employees in yet another sop to the unions. This wasn’t a negotiation so much as a shakedown by one of the Democratic Party’s most entrenched special interests: public-employee unions.

The United Federation of Teachers has led the push for the city to take more steps to protect safety, including agreeing to maintain minimum levels of PPE, and mandatory cleanings.

Following a WaPo report about Trump’s new COVID advisor Dr. Scott Atlas, the doctor addressed claims that he’s secretly pushing a new “herd immunity” agenda, to the horror of CNN.

“I’ve never advocated that strategy,” Atlas said during a news conference in Florida. According to CNN, while Atlas denied that he is pushing a herd immunity strategy, an unnamed administration official said all of the policies Atlas has pushed for are “in the vein”.

* * *

Russia has finally surpassed 1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, becoming the fourth country on earth to pass the 1 million milestone, even as the number of new cases reported daily continues to slow. Public health officials reported 4,729 new infections on Tuesday, bringing the total to 1,000,048. The death toll increased by 123 to 17,299, a strikingly low mortality rate, even as many experts suspect that Russia has dramatically undercounted deaths.

Russia is now behind only the US, Brazil and India for largest outbreak in the world.

Nearly 25.5 million cases of the virus have been confirmed around the world, according to Johns Hopkins University. Overnight, the global death toll topped 850k, as the global death toll as of Tuesday morning was 850,535 people. Some 16.8 million people have recovered.

Epidemiologists and viral disease experts like Dr. Scott Gottlieb have criticized the Trump Administration for shifting toward a “herd immunity” approach that many have said could lead to thousands of unnecessary deaths. On Tuesday, the WHO’s Dr. Tedros warned that “no country can simply pretend the pandemic is over,” an oblique insult to the US.

Despite fears about the CCP collecting and storing DNA from Hong Kong dissidents, Chief Executive Carrie Lam encouraged the city’s 7 million-plus citizens to get tested for COVID-19 via a new mass testing drive organized by the city, with the help of the mainland.

On the mainland, Chinese students began to return to their classrooms following 2 weeks without a single locally transmitted case.

The large-scale testing would help people understand that the screening “isn’t as painful or as difficult as they imagine,” Lam insisted.

After reporting a string of global single-day records for new cases, India’s tally is nearing 3.7 million, as millions of masked students sat for college admission exams after the government refused to delay them. Meanwhile India, which has the third-highest case count and third-worst death toll, reported 69,921 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, its lowest in six days.

As we noted yesterday, India entered a new phase of reopening today that will see subway trains running for the first time in months, even as its infection rate shows no signs of slowing down.

Finally, Obese and overweight people are at high risk of suffering severe cases of the virus, according to a new French study that effectively confirmed what we already knew. Research presented at a conference this week shows how carrying extra pounds can put patients at a higher risk of COVID-induced death.

While it’s tempting to declare victory over the US outbreak as the number of new cases continues to slow along the Sun Belt, it looks like more hot spots are emerging in the Midwest and parts of the deep south, as Alabama, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa see record numbers of new cases.

A team of Bank of America analysts pointed out that although the nationwide 7-day average positivity ratio has fallen from 6.2% to 5.8%, state-level data clearly point to outbreaks in Alabama, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota. These four states have the most new cases per capita over the last week, as well as the largest seven-day change in new cases per capita – not to mention the highest positivity ratios, north of 18%, which have risen sharply in all four states.

As we head into flu season, if these cases do not drop significantly below current levels, the probability of a large surge increases.

Circling back to Europe, Sweden is ready to impose stricter rules on local communities in the event of sudden Covid-19 outbreaks, but said it remains committed to its broader national strategy of limited restrictions on movement.

As case numbers in France and Spain continue to climb, Sweden has jumped on a European bandwagon favoring locally targeted measures over sweeping national efforts to try and stamp out new infections.

“To deal with the local outbreaks that we fear may happen, regional authorities could issue stricter recommendations if needed,” Johan Carlson, the director-general of Sweden’s Public Health Agency, said on Tuesday.

Guidelines to tackle local outbreaks could include more restrictive work-from-home rules and a return to online education for Sweden’s schoolchildren. Limitations on public gatherings, and closures of public transport, could also factor in.

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Author: Tyler Durden