The US decided to make its own coronavirus test, but the process was plagued by errors and delays. Here's a timeline of what went wrong.
- The US is woefully behind on testing coronavirus patients compared to nations like South Korea and China.
- Delays in US testing can be attributed, in part, to the CDC's decision to develop its own test, which turned out to be faulty.
- The US also restricted testing criteria so that not everyone with symptoms of the virus was eligible to be tested.
- For the latest global case totals, death tolls, and travel information, see Business Insider's live updates here.
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The US response to the coronavirus outbreak had been plagued by testing debacles and delayed reports of local cases. The country has confirmed more than 1,000 infections and more than 30 deaths as of Wednesday, but health experts anticipate that the total number of cases is likely higher.Around 80% of coronavirus cases are believed to be mild, which means some patients may never show symptoms. But even mild cases can be infectious, making it difficult to control the virus' spread. On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said "there's a good chance many will become sick" in the US.
Here's a timeline of everything that went wrong with coronavirus testing in the US.
The initial outbreak was first reported in China on December 31. By January 10, a Shanghai laboratory had sequenced the virus' genome.
German scientists produced the first diagnostic test a week later.
The World Health Organization began shipping those tests out to countries during the first week of February.
The US opted to develop its own test, but the distribution was limited.
Other countries, like China, developed their own tests as well.
The US test was approved by the Food and Drug Administration on February 4 — around two weeks after the first case was reported in Washington and more than a month after the outbreak was first reported in China.
A problem with one ingredient in the US tests caused more than half of state labs to receive inconclusive results.
Health experts said the glitch was unprecedented.
The CDC's initial criteria called for testing only symptomatic patients with a travel history to China or those who may have had contact with a lab-confirmed coronavirus patient.
The FDA began allowing academic hospital labs to develop and use their own coronavirus tests on February 29.
By March, doctors reported that they still hadn't received enough tests to diagnose potential cases.
Vice President Pence said on March 4 that more than 2,500 kits were being distributed across the country that week — enough for 1.5 million tests.
By Sunday, the CDC had tested fewer than 2,000 people. South Korea and China, meanwhile, had tested hundreds of thousands.
A long-term care facility in Seattle, home to one the biggest coronavirus outbreaks in the US, said it didn't have enough tests for 65 symptomatic employees on Monday.
Researchers at the Seattle Flu Study said the number of cases in Washington may have reached 570 by March 1, but the stringent testing criteria meant fewer cases were reported.
The CDC said coronavirus testing was available in all 50 states as of Monday.
In New York, where nearly 200 cases have been confirmed, Gov. Cuomo says testing capacity is still limited.
Hahn said the government plans to ship 4 million additional tests by the end of next week.
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