CityMD mistakenly told 15,000 people with coronavirus antibodies they were immune
People wearing masks line up outside a CityMD location to be tested for the coronavirus on April 30, 2020 in New York City, United States.
Alexi Rosenfeld | Getty Images
Emergency care provider CityMD admitted to mistakenly telling 15,000 people in New York and New Jersey who tested positive for anti-coronavirus antibodies that they were immune to the virus.
Public health officials have said they are not yet sure whether the antibodies give people immunity against re-infection with Covid-19. People who logged into their patient portal to retrieve their results online saw the inaccurate statement, which was attributed to “an editing error” which has since been corrected, spokesperson Matt Gove told CNBC .
CityMD corrected the language after CNBC asked for comment, and it is reaching out to affected patients, Gove said.
Serologic tests, or antibodies, can tell if a person has had Covid-19, even if they were asymptomatic.
“Due to an editing error in the Patient Portal, some CityMD patients have received incorrect information indicating that a positive COVID-19 antibody test result confers immunity,” Gove said in a report. press release Friday. “We have removed the incorrect language and will contact all patients to ensure they have the correct information.”
As researchers learn more about the virus, inaccurate information and debates quickly spread on social networks. CityMD, which operates more than 100 emergency care centers in New York and New Jersey, says it provides patients with accurate information during in-person consultations and elsewhere.
“CityMD patients who are tested for COVID-19 antibodies receive several documents… explaining that a positive result does not mean they are immune to COVID-19,” Gove said. “We apologize for any confusion this has created.”
The Food and drug administration, as good as World Health Organization and infectious disease specialists around the world, said there was not enough data to indicate that anti-coronavirus antibodies provide immunity to the virus.
“Four months after the start of this pandemic, we are not in a position to say that an antibody response means that someone is immune,” said Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the Human Resources Unit, last month. emerging diseases and zoonoses, adding that this topic is a “very active area of research” and that a number of studies are underway.
American officials and businesses across America are investing money in antibody testing, hoping it will give people the confidence to return to work and reopen parts of the economy. President Donald Trump recommended states use the tests as they begin to ease some of the strict social distancing measures imposed to tackle the pandemic, which has infected more than 1.3 million people across the United States, according to the data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Antibody tests should not be used for individual diagnosis, according to Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration and contributor to CNBC and a member of the Boards of Directors of Pfizer and biotechnology company Illumina. He said last month that the tests are best used for studies that seek to determine the extent of the virus’s spread in the population.
“They shouldn’t use these tests to make individual decisions for individual patients,” Gottlieb said last month on “Screaming box.” “They are good for studies at the population level and they are perhaps good in certain professions where there is a very high exposure to the coronavirus, but for the general population, an antibody test is probably not so. useful.”
The FDA tightened rules for coronavirus antibody testing last month, ordering manufacturers to submit emergency use authorization forms and data proving the tests work within 10 days or risk being withdrawn.
Since the FDA released its initial antibody testing policy in mid-March, the agency has said it has learned of a “worrying number” of improperly promoted commercial serology tests, including understood for diagnostic purposes, or which are not so accurate.
– CNBC Berkeley Lovelace contributed to this report.