A recent report from Reuters suggests that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention missed chances to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the beginning stages of the pandemic.
Dr. James Lawler, an experienced infectious disease specialist, told the outlet that he was denied permission to test 57 people who were evacuated in February from Wuhan, China, to a Nebraska military base. Although the group was quarantined, the CDC did not allow University of Nebraska Medical Center researchers to test the group, saying that it was worried its members may feel pressured into testing, which raised consent issues.
"You are asking for consent and not imposing any harm," said Lawrence Gostin, director of the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University. "There is a good reason to do it."
Furthermore, the CDC had finalized rules in 2017 that medical testing may be performed in quarantine, as long as patients were allowed to opt out and had the opportunity of "informed consent," meaning that they understand risks or benefits of testing.
Of the group of 57, only one became sick and was hospitalized. A test was negative for coronavirus, but the remaining 56 were never tested and were released from quarantine without knowing if they carried the virus, Reuters said.
The CDC also delayed testing asymptomatic passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship after 318 passengers were evacuated due to the virus, as well as took another two months after the Nebraska quarantine to expand testing guidelines to include asymptomatic people.