Long Beach no longer uses Curative test that LA County halted this week

Los Angeles County health officials announced late Sunday that they would halt the use of the Curative coronavirus test at county-supported testing sites this week, a move Long Beach officials made nearly six months ago.

The county announcement comes on the heels of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration alert that noted the oral test by the San Dimas-based diagnostic firm has a higher likelihood of false negatives than their nasal-administered counterparts.

County officials said the Curative test was only used for a three week period from mid-December to early January, accounting for only about 10% of the more than 242,000 tests administered during that time.

Long Beach spokesperson Jennifer Epstein confirmed the city ceased use of the Curative test effective July 14. It wasn’t immediately clear why Long Beach stopped using the test, and how many have been administered here.

The county will replace the Curative test with Fulgent Genetics tests, which are already widely used in the area.

The FDA announcement last week noted that user error is likely one cause of the increased number of false positives for the Curative test. The agency noted the Curative label states specimen collection should be directly observed and directed by trained health care workers.

But at local testing sites, while instructions are given to people prior to self-administering a COVID-19 test, many are not observed by health workers.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti last week defended the use of the Curative test at city-operated sites, saying their use on asymptomatic people allowed the city to detect the virus in 92,000 Angelinos who would have gone undetected otherwise.

“One-third of the tests that we’ve tested and found positive are asymptomatic people,” Garcetti said. “I’m not going to ever apologize because there was, I think, a lot of debate about whether asymptomatic people should be tested or not.”

County health officials today warned that all COVID-19 tests have a risk of false negatives. Because of this, Dr. Christina Gahly, director of LA County Department of Health Services, said even after a negative test result, people should finish quarantining after possible exposure to the virus.

For its part, Curative issued a statement last week defending its production, saying the test “has been validated and is being offered during the pandemic under an Emergency Use Authorization.

“The test performance and labeling, however, have not changed, nor has the company observed any changes in test performance. We have been working with the agency to address their concerns and these limitations, and we will continue to work interactively with the FDA through the Emergency Use Authorization.”

Company officials said they remain committed to following all federal regulations and to ensuring its tests “meet or exceed our customers’ expectations.”

—City News Service contributed to this report

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Brandon Richardson is a business reporter, covering everything from real estate and healthcare to the airport and port to city hall and the economy. He is a Long Beach native who has been with the Business Journal since graduating from Long Beach City College in spring 2016 with an associate’s degree in journalism. He is an avid record collector and concert goer.