IDSA, HIVMA address changes to CDC testing guidance, AAMC also issues statement

Aug. 28, 2020

The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) stated they are calling for the immediate reversal of the abrupt revision of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 testing guidelines which diminish the importance of testing asymptomatic individuals who were exposed to COVID-19.

“The revision is concerning, particularly as the United States continues to lead the world in confirmed cases and deaths, with more than 5.8 million cases and nearly 180,000 lives lost to the virus. Evidence has clearly indicated that asymptomatic persons play a significant role in transmissions. Identifying individuals infected with COVID-19—even if they are asymptomatic—is critical to support appropriate isolation and identification of contacts, to limit spread, and to provide the data-driven, comprehensive view of community spread needed to inform effective public health responses. In addition to individuals with known contact with someone who has tested positive, other groups of asymptomatic individuals are also important to test, such as those who work in nursing homes or in other industries with high risks of transmission. Testing of asymptomatic children may also be critical to support safe reopening of schools.

Testing capacity has remained a major concern throughout the pandemic, with marked differences in total numbers of tests run and turnaround time from community to community. Given the shortages in testing supplies and personnel, IDSA does prioritize testing for symptomatic individuals. However, as a nation our goal should be to expand testing capacity to allow for testing of all recommended individuals, including asymptomatic people who have been exposed.

It is essential that public health guidelines be rooted in the best available scientific evidence. Testing asymptomatic individuals who have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 remains a critical evidence-based strategy for containing the pandemic and reducing transmission. IDSA stands behind our guideline on the diagnosis of COVID-19.”

In addition, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Chief Scientific Officer Ross McKinney, Jr., MD, and AAMC President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD, issued the following statement on revised guidelines on COVID-19 testing from the CDC:

“The AAMC is alarmed at the changes to the CDC’s guidelines for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) testing which recommends that individuals who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 do not need to be tested unless they show symptoms of the disease. This recommendation is irresponsible when we know that roughly 40 percent of SARS-CoV-2 transmissions come from an asymptomatic person. A high proportion of people who are infected with SARS-CoV-2 never develop symptoms but are contagious and can infect others who may later develop symptoms.

The revised guidance will result in less testing at exactly the time when we need more testing in order to control the pandemic. In many parts of the country, the rate of positive testing remains over 10percent, demonstrating that the virus is still spreading and that testing rates are inadequate. The essential pandemic control function of contact tracing requires the testing of all contacts of infected individuals.

These CDC guidelines go against the best interests of the American people and are a step backward in fighting the pandemic. The AAMC urges the CDC to return to its earlier testing recommendations, and we stand ready to discuss and work with our colleagues at the CDC to optimize future recommendations.”

IDSA has the statement.

AAMC has the release.

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