MPCSD Response about Curative in the News
January 11, 2021 - As the community may be aware, COVID-19 testing company Curative has recently been in the news about potential false negative test results. As a community that has been instrumental in advocating for community testing and has worked with Curative to make testing available here in Menlo Park, MPCSD is following this news closely and is in touch with Curative and our San Mateo County Office of Education, Health Department, and County Counsel's Office to better understand this situation.
At this time, MPCSD continues to have confidence in the relative accuracy of Curative testing as compared to other options. Abundant and accessible COVID-19 testing is crucial for any community, and we are working hard to understand the impact of the recent news.
Here is what we know about the Curative situation at this time:
- Curative makes it clear in their initial onboarding process and documentation that false negatives are possible with the test. This is true for nearly every COVID test.
- The false negatives are most likely to show for people who are asymptomatic.
- Health Officers assume that with many of these new lab tests coming on the market, most are likely to come up with similar issues (false negatives) in the future.
- According to the Health Officers, these FDA advisories are relatively common; in general, Health Officers are not overly concerned.
- There is consensus among Health Officers from Marin, Santa Clara, Contra Costa, Riverside, and San Mateo that:
- Stopping testing using this lab is not advised. All labs performing these tests are necessary to meet CA demand.
- To ensure obtaining the most optimal specimen for testing, it is recommended that test takers be retrained/reminded to 1) refrain from eating, drinking, or brushing your teeth at least 20 minutes prior to taking the test, 2) swab per video instructions for the required 30 seconds
- There will be false negative results with Curative and most other labs providing COVID-19 testing.
- Per Dr. Morrow, San Mateo County Health Officer, Curative is submitting new data to the FDA (and since Curative does so much testing, they have a much larger sample size now than at the time of EUA application, especially for asymptomatic individuals). They expect updated sensitivity and specificity in asymptomatic individuals to be available soon.
- County Offices in Marin, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Riverside, and San Mateo will remain engaged with Curative and are experiencing effective support from them, including timely results and ever continuing improvements in the process.
- The groundwork is being laid for expansion of local testing options. We will add new options to our list of local testing when they are available.
- Anyone who has used Curative and has questions or concerns about their test may contact Curative at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888.702.9042.
- Please refer to the Curative website for any public response they may post or to see details about their Emergency Use Authorization or Patient Factsheet.
COVID-19 Testing as Part of Risk Mitigation Strategy
Regular COVID-19 testing is a key tool in any community’s efforts to contain and slow the spread of the coronavirus. MPCSD continues to encourage families with students attending in-person school to test every two weeks, with Curative or any other provider a family is comfortable with. Many options are listed on MPCSD’s COVID FAQ page here. MPCSD tests its in-person staff every week through a contract with Stanford Health Care. In the laboratory setting, the Curative COVID-19 test is equally sensitive as Stanford’s test (being able to detect comparable low levels of the coronavirus). However, real world sensitivity performance (and resulting false negative results) is dependent in part on the viral load, timing of the test, population tested (asymptomatic vs. symptomatic), and quality and type of the specimen.
At this point, we believe that the benefits of easily accessible, painless, and free community COVID-19 testing through Curative outweigh the risks, given that their positive test results are almost always correct, thereby allowing us to notify and contact trace in a timely manner to minimize further exposures. We would also like to remind everyone that should they experience any COVID-19 related symptoms, or suspect exposure to a potential or confirmed COVID-19 case, they should contact their physicians for testing recommendations.
Testing, however, is not the only tool used by MPCSD. The robust health and safety mitigation protocols, including required mask wearing, physical distancing, ventilation, hand hygiene, small cohorts, alternating week attendance, case notification, cohort closure when indicated, contact tracing and all the other efforts that the district is taking to mitigate risk while our schools are open are part of the safety strategy. We are reassured by the continuing low numbers of COVID-19 cases in our in-person community and the lack of transmission within school sites. This suggests that our community testing through Curative has not been impacted by any false negative results so far. Should either of these data points begin to change, we will immediately reevaluate our in-person learning model and make necessary changes to limit any potential spread.
We also remind you that it is critical that everyone in our community continues to follow public health guidelines and avoid engaging in risky behaviors, such as indoor social gatherings and travel, in order to minimize risk of transmission within our community and on our school campuses. Please continue to help keep our students, teachers, and staff safe!
MPCSD will continue to keep in communication with you, our family and staff community, regarding any pertinent developments with Curative or other testing options. Your safety and the safety of our schools is our primary concern. We thank you for your diligence in following health guidelines, being tested regularly, and notifying your site principal or nurse of any COVID-19 positive tests in your household. Together we will continue to navigate this pandemic and offer as much in-person learning as is safe and prudent to do.