LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services announced Sunday that it will discontinue the use of Curative COVID-19 PCR tests at pop-up testing sites after a significant amount of false negatives were reported.
The change, which will happen this week, comes after a review of the data that prompted the recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration alert regarding the possibility of false-negative results.
Curative provided a limited number of tests at county-supported pop-up testing sites beginning in mid-December. Between Dec. 13 and Jan. 2, a total of 24,241 Curative tests were administered there, making up about 10% of all COVID-19 tests administered at county-supported test sites during that time.
The Curative tests will be replaced with Fulgent Genetics tests. All COVID-19 tests have a risk of false-negative results, DHS said.
That means a person may test negative despite having the disease because the results are sensitive to how well the sample was collected and the concentration of viral RNA in it.
There is no reliable way to detect early infection, meaning that infection often spreads before symptoms have time to develop.
Nevertheless, PCR tests -- including the Curative test -- remain better at detecting disease than some other tests, including rapid tests.
DHS reminds people to follow public health guidance to protect themselves and others by staying home whenever possible, wearing a face covering over the nose and mouth, avoiding gatherings and frequent hand washing.
The city of Los Angeles, however, will not be discontinuing the use of the Curative test, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told Good Day LA's, Michaela Pereira.
"For folks with symptoms, (the) FDA hasn’t said anything. (The) CDC has said 'continue to test asymptomatic'," Garcetti said.
"We've found 92,000 people with COVID-19, without symptoms, using this test. So all that said, is you have to do it the right way. We know that’s true for any test — a pregnancy test will give you a false negative if you don’t do it the right way."