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The U.S. is conducting millions more rapid coronavirus tests, but are results reported? – National


After struggling to ramp up coronavirus testing, the U.S. can now screen several million people daily, thanks to a growing supply of rapid tests. But the boom comes with a new challenge: keeping track of the results.

All U.S. testing sites are legally required to report their results, positive and negative, to public health agencies. But state health officials say many rapid tests are going unreported, which means some new COVID-19 infections may not be counted.

And the situation could get worse, experts say. The federal government is shipping more than 100 million of the newest rapid tests to states for use in public schools, assisted living centres and other new testing sites.

Read more:
U.S. to ship millions of coronavirus tests in effort to reopen schools through 12th grade

“Schools certainly don’t have the capacity to report these tests,” said Dr. Jeffrey Engel of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. “If it’s done at all it’s likely going to be paper-based, very slow and incomplete.”

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Early in the outbreak, nearly all U.S. testing relied on genetic tests that could only be developed at high-tech laboratories. Even under the best circumstances, people had to wait about two to three days to get results. Experts pushed for more “point-of-care” rapid testing that could be done in doctors offices, clinics and other sites to quickly find people who are infected, get them into quarantine and stop the spread.

Beginning in the summer, cheaper, 15-minute tests — which detect viral proteins called antigens on a nasal swab — became available. The first versions still needed to be processed using portable readers. The millions of new tests from Abbott Laboratories now going out to states are even easier to use: they’re about the size of a credit card and can be developed with a few drops of chemical solution.

Federal health officials say about half of the nation’s daily testing capacity now consists of rapid tests.


Click to play video 'Is rapid testing the solution to Canada’s 2nd wave?'



Is rapid testing the solution to Canada’s 2nd wave?


Is rapid testing the solution to Canada’s 2nd wave?

Large hospitals and laboratories electronically feed their results to state health departments, but there is no standardized way to report the rapid tests that are often done elsewhere. And state officials have often been unable to track where these tests are being shipped and whether results are being reported.

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In Minnesota, officials created a special team to try and get more testing data from nursing homes, schools and other newer testing sites, only to be deluged by faxes and paper files.

“It’s definitely a challenge because now we have to do many more things manually than we were with electronic reporting,” said Kristen Ehresmann, of the Minnesota Department of Health.

Even before Abbott’s newest rapid tests hit the market last month, undercounting was a concern.

Read more:
Health Canada approves rapid coronavirus test after feds put 7.9M on order

Competitors Quidel and Becton Dickinson have together shipped well over 35 million of their own quick tests since June. But that massive influx of tests hasn’t showed up in national testing numbers, which have mostly ranged between 750,000 and 950,000 daily tests for months.

Besides tallying new cases, COVID-19 testing numbers are used to calculate a key metric on the outbreak: percentage of tests positive for COVID-19. The World Health Organization recommends countries test enough people to drive their per cent of positives below 5 per cent. And the U.S. has mostly been hovering around or below that rate since mid-September, a point that President Donald Trump and his top aides have touted to argue that the nation has turned the corner on the outbreak. The figure is down from a peak of 22 per cent in April.

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But some disease-tracking specialists are skeptical. Engel said his group’s members think they aren’t getting all the results.

“So it may be a false conclusion,” he said.


Click to play video 'Canada signs deal to buy 7.9 million rapid COVID-19 tests'



Canada signs deal to buy 7.9 million rapid COVID-19 tests


Canada signs deal to buy 7.9 million rapid COVID-19 tests

One of the challenges to an accurate count: States have wildly different approaches. Some states lump all types of tests together in one report, some don’t tabulate the quick antigen tests at all and others don’t publicize their system. Because antigen tests are more prone to false negatives and sometimes require retesting, most health experts say they should be recorded and analyzed separately. Currently only 10 states do that and post the results online, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

The federal government is allocating the tests to states based on their population, rather than helping them develop a strategy based on the size and severity of their outbreaks.

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“That’s just lazy” said Dr. Michael Mina of Harvard University. “Most states won’t have the expertise to figure out how to use these most appropriately.”

Read more:
Millions of coronavirus rapid tests won’t arrive for months: Health Canada

Instead, Mina said the federal government should direct the limited supplies to key hot spots around the country, driving down infections in the hardest-hit communities. Keeping tighter control would also ensure test results are quickly reported.

Johns Hopkins University researcher Gigi Gronvall agrees health officials need to carefully consider where and when to deploy the tests. Eventually, methods for tracking the tests will catch up, she said.

“I think having the tools to determine if someone is infectious is a higher priority,” she said.

___

AP data journalist Nicky Forster contributed to this story




© 2020 The Canadian Press





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Conor McGregor awaits ‘key physical tests’ amid sexual assault claim


UFC legend Conor McGregor is awaiting the review of evidence that could determine his fate in the midst of his most recent scandal.

French authorities are reviewing the results of “key physical tests” in the case against 32-year-old McGregor, who stands accused of sexual assault and indecent exposure while vacationing on an island in the south of France.

“Key physical tests were carried out on the suspect, but the results will not be known until after the weekend,” an investigating source said on Sunday via The Sun. “These tests are of a routine nature following incidents like this, but they take time, to make sure there is no doubt about them.”

The authorities are also reviewing video evidence obtained from fellow vacationers and security footage that may have captured the incident on tape.

“It is also possible that the incident being complained about was filmed. It took place in a very busy place, where fixed cameras are situated everywhere,” the source said. “Lots of holidaymakers would also have been filming and taking pictures on their phones, so they also need to be spoken to.”

McGregor was on a romantic vacation with fiancée, Dee Devlin, with whom he has two children, in Corsica when the alleged incident occurred. He was taken into police custody and questioned on Friday and was released a day later uncharged. The criminal case remains active.

Conor McGregor and fiancée Dee Devlin
Conor McGregor and fiancée Dee DevlinZuffa LLC via Getty Images

McGregor vehemently denies the accusations which his attorney characterized as, “abusive.” His manager, Audie Attar, implied the unnamed accuser may have pernicious motives and that his client is a victim.

“I am irate and putting out a warning loud and clear,” Attar said, “Conor McGregor is not and will not be a target for those seeking to score a headline or a payday.”

This is far from the first time the former MMA star has been embroiled in legal troubles. In 2019, he was sentenced to a court-ordered anger management course and community service in Brooklyn after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct for smashing a steel dolly into a bus outside of the Barclays Center. UFC lightweight Michael Chiesa was hospitalized as a result of the attack.

McGregor was arrested in Miami after smashing a fan’s cell phone outside of the Fontainebleu hotel in South Beach. He was also caught on tape punching an elderly man in an Irish pub in 2019.

UFC president Dana White addressed McGregor’s situation on Saturday following the UFC Vegas 10 event.

“I’m not defending Conor in any way shape or form, I don’t know enough about the situation to talk about it at all,” White told reporters. “But I do know I’ve gone out with him publicly before and it is bats–t nuts.

“Whether you’re retired or not retired you can get yourself into trouble.”



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Grigor Dimitrov tests positive for coronavirus; Adria Tour tennis final cancelled



Bulgarian tennis player Grigor Dimitrov has confirmed that he has tested positive for coronavirus.

Dimitrov announced his Covid-19 diagnosis on Sunday, making him the highest-profile tennis player to reveal he has the disease.

The 29-year-old Bulgarian had been competing in the Adria Tour exhibition tournament in Croatia until he withdrew with illness prior to his match on Sunday.

The final of the event, which would have featured world number one Novak Djokovic, was cancelled as a result.


“I want to reach out and let my fans and friends know that I tested positive back in Monaco for COVID-19,” former world number three Dimitrov wrote on Instagram.

“I want to make sure anyone who has been in contact with me during these past days gets tested and takes the necessary precautions.

“I am so sorry for any harm I might have caused. I am back home now and recovering. Thanks for your support and please stay safe and healthy.”

Additional reporting by Reuters.



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How do coronavirus home antibody tests work, and how do I get one?



The Elecsys laboratory-based test requires a blood sample to be taken by a health professional. Blood serums are obtained, to which reagents are added, and then examined in machines known as cobas e analysers, already widely installed in NHS labs across the country.

The development of an accurate antibody test is seen as key to helping Britain get back to work.

Scientists believe people who produce antibodies after having coronavirus may develop immunity to catching the virus again, making them safe to return to work.

Dr Ron Daniels, a consultant in critical care at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, says: “If you test positive for antibodies, it’s likely you have a degree of immunity. We’re not sure for how long, and how much, so you shouldn’t stop [social] distancing, but best guess it is likely to be partially protective for at least a few months.”

The Government had previously hoped to roll out millions of antibody tests, but supplies from China failed to pass sensitivity and specificity tests. 

Ministers will attempt to recoup taxpayers’ money spent on the fingerprick tests after an Oxford University trial found they returned inaccurate results.

That failure was a significant setback because it had been hoped the antibody tests would show who had already built up immunity, therefore offering a swifter route out of lockdown.

In April, however, Professor Karol Sikora, a private oncologist and Dean of Medicine at the University of Buckingham, validated a test kit using samples from staff at his clinics, which were then verified by a private lab.

Around 6 per cent of staff were found to have had the virus but, crucially, under-40s who had tested positive came back negative, suggesting the test may not be useful for the wider population. 

Siemens Healthineers, a German diagnostics and medical imaging firm, also announced on April 23 that it was producing an antibody blood test to identify past coronavirus infections.

The blood tests were expected to be available to large labs by late May, the company said, adding that it would be able to provide more than 25 million tests per month from June thanks to an upgrade to its manufacturing site in Massachusetts.

Another antibody test being pioneered by Oxford University could be available by the end of May, according to Professor John Newton, the UK’s national testing co-ordinator.

What is an antigen test?

An antigen test detects the presence (or absence) of an antigen, not antibodies. An antigen is a structure within a virus that triggers the immune system’s response to fight off the infection. It can be detected in blood before antibodies are made.

An antigen test is effective because it can take a few days for the immune system to build enough antibodies to be detected in a test, however, antigens can be detected almost immediately after infection. So, in theory, the test can tell much sooner whether someone has the virus.

Antigen tests are used to diagnose HIV, malaria and flu. 



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Netherlands McDonald’s tests social distancing-inspired redesign for post lockdown business


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This could be the fast-food restaurant of the future.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to have a significant impact on the service industry, some restaurants are trying to adapt to the virus. As one McDonald’s in the Netherlands shows, things could be a bit more spacious down the road.

Customers wait outside on social distancing markings at a prototype location of fast-food giant McDonald's for restaurants which respect the 1.5m social distancing measure, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Arnhem, Netherlands, May 1, 2020.

Customers wait outside on social distancing markings at a prototype location of fast-food giant McDonald’s for restaurants which respect the 1.5m social distancing measure, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Arnhem, Netherlands, May 1, 2020.
(REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw)

The fast-food chain is trialing a new design in the Dutch city of Arlem, Reuters reports. The location puts an emphasis on promoting social distancing, which will likely still be asked of customers even after lockdowns are lifted.

Images of the McDonald’s show clear markings on the floor to show customers where to stand in relation to other customers. One photo even shows markings placed on the sidewalk and into the road, telling customers where exactly to stand while waiting on line.

MCDONALD’S CANADA TO START USING IMPORTED BEEF DUE TO SUPPLY CHAIN ISSUES

A customer cleans his hands before entering a prototype location of fast-food giant McDonald's for restaurants which respect the 1.5m social distancing measure, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Arnhem, Netherlands, May 1, 2020.

A customer cleans his hands before entering a prototype location of fast-food giant McDonald’s for restaurants which respect the 1.5m social distancing measure, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Arnhem, Netherlands, May 1, 2020.
(REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw)

Other photos show clear plastic barriers placed between tables, food being delivered on hand trolleys (the company may be implementing table service at some locations to limit interactions between customers and employees), and a handwashing and sanitizing station near the restaurant’s entrance.

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A woman uses a touch screen at a prototype location of fast-food giant McDonald's for restaurants which respect the 1.5m social distancing measure, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Arnhem, Netherlands, May 1, 2020.

A woman uses a touch screen at a prototype location of fast-food giant McDonald’s for restaurants which respect the 1.5m social distancing measure, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Arnhem, Netherlands, May 1, 2020.
(REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw)

“We have tried to figure out how to keep our customers and employees safe while maintaining a restaurant atmosphere,” Eunice Koekkoek, a spokeswoman for McDonald’s Netherlands, told Reuters. “These are drastic changes, but we hope to make them in a way that customers don’t notice them too much.”

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While it’s unclear if these changes will come to McDonald’s locations in the United States, a spokesperson told Business Insider that the company is moving “thoughtfully and judiciously to make changes to our operations in collaboration with our franchisees.”



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More than 2 million rapid #Coronavirus tests ready to be deployed to Europe’s health-care system 


The 15-minute coronavirus test is now available to ease the strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on health-care systems across Europe, which comes as world leaders look for solutions to combat the disease.

Using easy-to-collect samples, the tests detect the IgM and IgG antibodies response to the coronavirus, to identify if patients have contracted COVID-19 within minutes of testing.

The technology, which has already been used in China, will improve the detection rate of patients carrying COVID-19, allowing doctors to test suspected carriers as soon as 2 days after suspected exposure.

The antibody test, which was approved for sale in European markets last week, promises to ease pressure on labs by providing rapid point-of-care diagnostics.

This will assist healthcare professionals to clinically assess patients with and without symptoms, so they can provide vital care to those most in need even quicker.

Total coronavirus cases are set to surpass 240,000 worldwide today, and having been granted CE Mark certification, the tests can be made available immediately, with manufacturing being increased to meet demand over the coming weeks.

Yesterday (19 March), British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, confirmed interest in procuring COVID-19 tests which are as “simple as a pregnancy test, which can tell whether you have had the disease and in its early days, but if it works as its proponents claim, then we will buy literally hundreds of thousands of these kits as soon as practicable.”

He continued: “Because obviously it has the potential to be a total gamechanger.”

The World Nano Foundation, through its partners, has formed a partnership with the Chinese developer of the test, to make them available across Europe.

The World Nano Foundation are offering these tests to Governments first, as they are best positioned to prioritise the application of the tests, rather than have the supply taken up indiscriminately by the market (minimum order 100,000 tests, price on application). These Rapid tests have already been used for Coronavirus in China and we now have CE Mark approval to deploy these tests in Europe immediately.

Use case examples:-
1. To relieve pressure on centralised testing methods that require laboratory machine which are already
overloaded.

2. To allow key workers forced into self-isolation due to contact to return to work if test negative.

3. To rapidly identify transmission events from contact lists of known positive patients.

For more information about the 15-minute COVID-19 tests, please contact Paul Sheedy, Co-Founder of The World Nano Foundation: [email protected]n.com





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Coronavirus live news: EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier tests positive | World news


French police officers patrol and control citizens while a strick lockdown comes into in effect to stop the spread of the Covid-19

French police officers patrol and control citizens while a strick lockdown comes into in effect to stop the spread of the Covid-19 Photograph: Laurent VU/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock

France has suggested extending a two-week lockdown to try to stem the spread of the coronavirus as the interior minister blasted “idiots” who flout home confinement rules and put others at risk, AFP reports.

President Emmanuel Macron has ordered French residents to stay at home except for essential excursions such as going to the doctor, walking the dog, or going for a solitary run, and banned any gatherings.

For a two-week period that began Tuesday, people can go to work only if their employer cannot make tele-commuting possible.

But news reports have shown groups of friends and families strolling in parks despite the clampdown, prompting calls from some officials for even stricter limits.

Many have been observed ignoring the one-metre (three feet) safe inter-personal distance in queues at the essential businesses that were allowed to stay open.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said people ignoring the measures were “idiots”.

“There are people who underestimate the risk… There are people who think they are modern-day heroes by breaking the rules while they are in fact idiots,” he told Europe 1 radio.

Macron on Thursday urged companies and workers to continue their activities “in compliance with the health safety rules”.

Genevieve Chene, who heads France’s public health agency, said between two and four weeks are needed for the outbreak to be adequately contained.

“Within two to three weeks we should be able to observe a slightly different dynamic” to the outbreak’s momentum, she told Franceinfo radio, and “a significant braking” within two to four weeks.

“It is likely that it is indeed necessary to extend (the containment measures) in order for the braking to be sufficient,” Chene said.

Meanwhile, the French government has started requisitioning hotel rooms for homeless people to occupy during the confinement period, Housing Minister Julien Denormandie announced.

More than 170 rooms will be made available in Paris by the end of the week, and the government has identified 80 sites elsewhere across the country to accomodate the country’s estimated 250,000 homeless people.



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