HealthDay News — Experts are alarmed about revised U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines advising that people who do not have symptoms of COVID-19 do not need to be tested, even if they have recently been exposed to the new coronavirus.
The guidelines were changed this week and prompted concern among infectious disease professionals, The New York Times reported. They noted the importance of identifying infected people in the short period of time immediately before they develop symptoms and may be most contagious. About half of COVID-19 transmissions can be traced back to people in this presymptomatic stage, models suggest. Experts warned that the revised CDC guidelines could delay treatment and lead to wider spread of COVID-19.
“Wow, that is a walk-back,” Susan Butler-Wu, M.D., a clinical microbiologist at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, told The Times. “We’re in the middle of a pandemic, and that’s a really big change.” She is concerned that people could misinterpret the change in testing guidelines as meaning that people without symptoms cannot pass the coronavirus on to others, a misconception that experts have long tried to dispel. “If people are getting exposed, and they’re not getting tested, and they’re not isolating, that’s a huge problem,” Kuppalli warned.
“Testing capacity has massively expanded, and we are not utilizing the full capacity that we have developed,” a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson told The Times. “We revised the guidance to reflect current evidence and the best public health interventions.”