Did the CDC Withdraw a COVID Test Because It Failed?

A post from the blog Armstrong Economics that has been widely shared on Facebook claims that the “CDC admits that COVID tests are invalid.” According to the article: “The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is finally withdrawing the PCR test for COVID for it is seriously flawed and is incapable of distinguishing between the COVID and influenza viruses.”

This is false. 

As proof for the claim, the article includes a statement from the CDC from July 2021, about “changes to CDC RT-PCR for SARS-CoV-2 Testing.”

This statement declares that the CDC is withdrawing a request to the FDA for emergency use authorization for one specific COVID test and said it would be retired. However, it is not evidence that the PCR test for COVID-19 is flawed. 

The CDC issued a statement in August 2021 with “clarifications about the Retirement of the CDC 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov) Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel.”

The statement made clear that the July 2021announcement, later cited in the viral article, meant that the CDC was retiring the CDC 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel. In the statement the CDC explained it was retiring the test“because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized hundreds of other SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic tests, many of which are now higher throughput or can test for more than one illness at a time. At the time CDC deployed the 2019-nCoV Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel, there were no other FDA-authorized methods available within the United States.”

The CDC clarified that the July announcement did not mean that the CDC 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel failed or that it was revoked by the FDA. “There are no performance concerns with this test. The CDC 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel is a highly accurate test. It has been used to successfully detect SARS-CoV-2 since February 2020.”

Lastly, the viral article also claims that the “CDC has finally admitted that the PCR test cannot even differentiate between SARS-CoV-2 and influenza viruses.” The CDC addressed this matter as well in its  August 2021 statement, saying that: “The CDC 2019-nCoV Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel does not confuse influenza with SARS-CoV-2. It is a highly accurate test that detects the presence or absence of SARS-CoV-2 viral genetic material within a patient specimen.” The CDC also added that the test in question “was specifically designed to only detect SARS-CoV-2 viral genetic material. It does not detect influenza or differentiate between influenza and SARS-CoV-2. The presence of influenza viral genetic material within a specimen will not cause a false positive result.”

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