The Trump administration has ordered an "innovative" and "first of its kind" at home coronavirus testing program that has the support of Bill Gates and other public health experts to cease, and it's unclear why.
The program, as The New York Times and NPR affiliate KUOW report, is based in Seattle, Washington, and allowed residents to easily test for coronavirus. One of the program's benefits is 43 percent of its more than 12,000 participants so far were asymptomatic. To date the program has identified dozens of previously-undetected COVID-19 cases.
The Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network (SCAN), operated by researchers from the Seattle Flu Study and Public Health – Seattle & King County, and had an "in-person technical adviser" from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was authorized by the State of Washington.
“Please discontinue patient testing and return of diagnostic results to patients until proper authorization is obtained,” the FDA ordered, saying it had "concerns about safety and accuracy."
SCAN's researchers say they had, The Times reports, "submitted data validating both the safety and reliability of the swabs in home-based collection."
One researcher not affiliated with the program called halting it “bizarre.”
It's unclear if Bill Gates' association with the project has any negative impact. Some far right conspiracy theorists among Trump's base, including those protesting state stay-at-home policies, falsely claim Gates is developing a vaccine that contains a microchip to track those who get injected.
President Donald Trump has been very concerned with the actual numbers attached to coronavirus cases and has made clear he wanted to keep the numbers low to help his re-election campaign.
He has said, "we don’t want everybody taking this test," referring to coronavirus testing. “It’s totally unnecessary. This will pass through and we’re going to be even stronger for it.”
On Thursday Trump said testing for coronavirus is "overrated," and complained that the more tests are conducted, the more cases there are.
“When you test, you have a case," Trump said in Allentown, Pennsylvania. "When you test, you find something is wrong with people. If we didn’t do any testing we would have very few cases.”