COVID-19 test used by Congress could give false results, FDA warns

The COVID-19 test being used in the U.S. Capitol could be producing false negative results, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The test, manufactured by Curative, has been offered for lawmakers, staff and reporters since November, following an order from the D.C. mayor requiring people traveling to the city to obtain a test.

But the accuracy of that test is now in question after the FDA on Monday alerted patients and health care providers of the risk of false results, “particularly false negative results,” with the Curative COVID-19 test.

In a memo sent Monday and first reported by Politico, the Office of the Attending Physician said it was “monitoring” the FDA’s warning about the test, which is currently used at the Capitol under medical supervision.

Brian Monahan, the Capitol physician, noted the test is “the most accurate available” but that there is always a risk for false negatives, especially in people who appear asymptomatic, which he noted “is a problem for all coronavirus tests.”

Why it’s important: The possibility of false negative test results could complicate efforts to stop coronavirus outbreaks in Congress, as well as in the broader community. Not all lawmakers embrace the simple preventive health measures like mask wearing and physical distancing, and members travel back and forth to D.C. from states experiencing large outbreaks

At least 49 members of Congress or lawmakers-elect have tested positive for COVID-19 since March, while several others have tested positive for antibodies or had presumed cases.