Colorado health agencies stopped using Curative COVID-19 tests this week because of concerns about falsely negative results.
The Food and Drug Administration shared concerns about the commercial laboratory’s test results in early January and again this week. After the announcement, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment stopped using the tests in congregate settings, such as correctional facilities and nursing homes.
Following the state’s guidance, San Juan Basin Public Health also discontinued the Curative tests in Archuleta and La Plata counties on Thursday.
“SJBPH and test site operators have worked hard to set up test sites that can operate with multiple different test types and laboratories,” said Claire Ninde, SJBPH spokeswoman, in an email to The Durango Herald. “We do not anticipate a reduction in overall testing availability, though the number of people tested at different sites may change.”
Curative Inc., a California-based health care startup, provides nasal and oral COVID-19 tests at more than 8,000 testing sites, according to the company’s website. The self-administered oral swabs are meant to be a “pain-free,” 20-second alternative to other tests.
But when the tests weren’t administered properly, the risk of a false negatives increased, according to the FDA. In that situation, people might receive delayed treatment and continue interacting with others, possibly putting them at risk of infection.
People who were tested on or after Jan. 13 with a Curative oral swab test, and received negative results, should be retested using an anterior nasal swab, according to the CDPHE news release.
For the month of December, the weekly average was 215 Curative tests at the La Plata County community testing site and 163 at the Archuleta County community testing site, Ninde said.
SJBPH will be working with all testing sites to contact people who need to be retested. They will receive a phone call if testing again is recommended.
People need to practice good public health precautions regardless of the type of test or laboratory used, Ninde said.
“A test result is a snapshot in time and controlling the pandemic requires good practices from all of us,” she said.
As of Jan. 19, Curative conducted more than 715,000 tests in Colorado. The state’s guidance will impact almost 1,000 congregate settings, CDPHE said.
Some community testing sites can still use Curative tests, but only when patients meet certain criteria, such as showing symptoms of COVID-19. The state plans to transition away from Curative tests in coming weeks, the news release said.
“We are committed to providing all Coloradans with access to reliable tests,” said Sarah Tuneberg, testing and containment manager for the COVID-19 response. “We have a transition plan that will allow us to move quickly with minimal disruption to testing, which is a critical tool in slowing the spread of COVID-19.”
Both SJBPH and CDPHE urged people to continue following public health protocols, like wearing masks, avoiding large gatherings and staying physically distant from others.