NIH director says coronavirus testing times “too long” as country tries to control virus

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“The average test time is too long,” Dr. Francis Collins said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “And that really reduces the value of the tests, because you do the tests to find out who is carrying the virus, and then isolate them quickly so they don’t spread it.”

As Covid-19 continues to rise in the United States, some states, labs and public health officials are warning that timelines for diagnostic tests have slowed.

The challenges, which stem in part from persistent obstacles in the testing supply chain, underscore that while the overall testing capacity of the United States has multiplied, the country’s healthcare system is still struggling in some regions to detect. rapidly spreading the virus.

Despite federal government efforts to support testing in certain cities and regions, major diagnostic companies said earlier this month that growing demand for tests had in turn increased average wait times for results . Results previously reported by CNN can now take an average of four to six days for the general population or in some states like Arizona for up to three weeks.

Collins said on Sunday the government needed to invest in new technology to meet demand for testing.“We have to do things that are more spot on,” Collins said. “There are a number of new technologies coming up that look very promising in this space. We need to invest a lot of money, and the government is ready to do so, to expand it. ”

President Donald Trump has repeatedly argued against the value of widespread coronavirus testing, saying more testing creates more cases. He reiterated this claim Sunday in an interview on “Fox News Sunday”.

“It’s because we have good tests, because we have the best tests in the world,” the president said of some states seeing an increase in the number of coronavirus cases, later adding: “The cases are on the rise because we have the best tests in the world and we have the most tests. ”

Health experts said it was not, highlighting data showing that the percentage of people who tested positive had also increased, indicating the spread of the virus.

The White House is pushing back Senate GOP requests to dramatically increase funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for coronavirus testing and contact tracing.

Some Senate Republicans are pushing for more money for the efforts in the next round of stimulus spending, but the White House argues that enough funds remain from the March stimulus bill, CNN told CNN on Saturday a source directly aware of the issue.

CNN’s Manu Raju, Lauren Fox, Kristen Holmes, Curt Devine and Naomi Thomas contributed to this report.

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