President Donald Trump often likes to boast about how many COVID-19 tests have been conducted in the United States, but a new report from The Atlantic is calling those testing statistics into serious question.
According to the report, the Centers for Disease Control has been “conflating the results of two different types of coronavirus tests,” which has had the effect of “distorting several important metrics and providing the country with an inaccurate picture of the state of the pandemic.”
In short, the CDC has been mixing test results from COVID-19 viral tests with COVID-19 antibody tests, which is a fundamental error that could lead to states reopening their economies before they are actually ready to ease up on restrictions.
“The widespread use of the practice means that it remains difficult to know exactly how much the country’s ability to test people who are actively sick with COVID-19 has improved,” the publication notes.
Ashish Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, appeared apoplectic when informed by The Atlantic of the CDC’s error.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he said. “How could the CDC make that mistake? This is a mess… The viral testing is to understand how many people are getting infected, while antibody testing is like looking in the rearview mirror. The two tests are totally different signals.”