Contamination at CDC labs caused a significant delay in the agency providing COVID-19 test kits to states that needed them, according to reports from The Washington Post and CNN.
The Post reports that scientists and federal regulators say that the CDC laboratories that assembled the test kits did not take proper precautions to avoid cross-contamination when putting together the tests. According to The Post, the tests were assembled in the same lab space where scientists were handling synthetic coronavirus materials.
The Post also reports that the FDA determined that the "CDC violated its own laboratory standards in making the kits."
A CDC spokesperson confirmed to CNN that the Department of Health and Human Services is investigating the matter.
"Routine quality control measures aim to identify these types of issues. Those measures were not sufficient in this circumstance, and CDC implemented enhanced quality control to address the issue and will be assessing this issue moving forward," the statement read.
The U.S.'s fight against the novel coronavirus continues to be hampered by a lack of adequate testing. In the early weeks of March, the CDC's stumbles to provide test kits in Washington and New York City allowed the virus to spread quickly and silently.
By mid-March, the FDA had granted emergency approval to quick tests created by private companies for use at local hospitals. But by then, thousands of Americans had already contracted the disease.
The United States has since conducted more than 3 million coronavirus tests according to
the most in the world. However, with a population of over 300 million people, those tested represent just one percent of the population. Health experts agree that the U.S. still needs to increase testing capacity to learn more about the behaviors of the virus.