Recently, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has made an update regarding instructions for coronavirus testing in all states in the US. In accordance with CDC’s new guidelines, people who do no experience symptoms of the infection such as fever, coughing, sneezing, and difficulty in breathing should not go for a test although the health agency emphasized the importance of getting the test at the beginning of the pandemic.
The new instructions come as a surprise to the health experts. Most of the medical community has always supported large-scale testing and deemed it fundamental for controlling the current health crisis. To prevent the further spread of the virus, all people regardless of whether they have signs or not should get a test.
However, the update in the guidelines even asks people who have been in contact with an infected person to avoid getting tested if there are no visible symptoms. This can actually lead to higher rates of transmission as asymptomatic people are often unaware of having the infection.
As a result, many of them continue with their daily activities and interact with multiple people, thereby paving the way for further transmission. So, why has the CDC, which is the US’s leading health agency made a sudden change in the instructions?
Till now, the agency has not explained the change in instructions and has not answered any questions raised on the decision to do so. Instead, the official spokesperson for the CDC has forwarded all questions to the Department of Health and Human Services and has not given any further comments.
Brett Giroir, who is the assistant secretary at the HSS, has explained in a statement to CNN that “This Guidance has been updated to reflect current evidence and best public health practices, and to further emphasize using CDC-approved prevention strategies to protect yourself, your family, and the most vulnerable of all ages.”
The exact medical evidence that can explain further on why testing for asymptomatic cases and CDC’s new guidelines has still not been mentioned by either the CDC or HSS. At the same time, the majority of the experts still support testing upon suspected exposure to the infection.
The infectious disease specialist and associate dean of Emory University School of Medicine, Dr. Carlos del Rio has commented on the recent change in guidelines saying that there is no evidence to support the new instructions regarding testing.
Similarly, many other health experts also agree while specifically stating that there is a clear lack of evidence. However, it should also be noted that CDC’s new guidelines are in line with the White House and the president of the US, Donald Trump.
The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo has also criticized the Trump Administration in a recent statement over the change, saying that political pressure on the CDC is likely to damage the progress over the pandemic in the past few months.
Governor Cuomo has added that the decision only supports Trump’s idea of reducing infections by simply lowering the number of tests across the country. “It fosters his failed policy of denial,” he said.