Ninety people who received positive COVID-19 results did not have the virus, according to the state Department of Public Health.
The department said the state public health laboratory uncovered a flaw in one of the testing systems it uses to test for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and 90 of 144 people tested between June 15 and July 17 received a false positive COVID test report. Many are nursing home residents.
State officials said the flaw has been reported to the manufacturer and the federal Food and Drug Administration and DPH has taken immediate steps to make sure the patients are notified.
According to the state Department of Health, the errant testing results were “from a widely-used laboratory testing platform that the state laboratory started using on June 15.”
Acting Commissioner Deidre S. Gifford said the lab found inconsistencies last week while doing testing validation.
“We have notified the healthcare facilities for everyone who received a false positive test result from our state laboratory,” Gifford said in a statement. “Accurate and timely testing for the novel coronavirus is one of the pillars supporting effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
She said adjustments have already been made “to ensure the accuracy of future test results from this platform.”
They said all positive results will be further analyzed by multiple laboratory scientists, and if indicated, retested using another method.
Any nursing home resident who received a false positive COVID-19 test result will be retested as soon as possible, according to the Department of Health.
The Department of Health said a total of 161 lab specimens from 144 individuals showed positive results for COVID-19 using the platform during the period of June 15-July 17. Of those, a total of 91 specimens from 90 people showed false positive results.
Gifford said the department is having conversations with other labs in the state to determine how many are using a similar system, Gifford said.
Dr. Jafar Razeq, director of the state public laboratory in Rocky Hill, said the state lab was looking into pool testing, which requires positive tests, and discovered the issue last Wednesday.
The lab used another FDA-authorized test and found the false positives.
Razeq said any positive test that comes out of the platform will be retested.
Gifford said the false positive will apply to the minority of tests, and anyone who gets a positive test should assume that the results are correct unless notified by a provider of a change.
"All of these tests are improving week by week in terms of their accuracy," Gifford later added.