Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra announced during a recent Commissioners Court meeting that 2,000 in-home test kits for COVID-19 would be available for county residents, but no in-home testing kits have been approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration.
“...I purchased the first 2,000 of these tests and priority will be given to the frontline medical personnel and individuals exhibiting symptoms. Medical consultation will be required and these tests results will be available approximately 15 minutes after they have been administered,” Becerra said during the meeting.
The agreement was struck with Reliant Immune Diagnostics who owns MDBox, the telemedicine provider supplying the testing kits.
On April 7, the company Becerra struck the deal with for the test kits, together with AnyPlace MD, were subjects of an investigation started by U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), and U.S. Rep. Katie Porte (D-Calif.), for selling at-home testing kits not authorized by the FDA, according to Krishnamoorthi’s Facebook page. Now the MDBox website states serological testing is “not meant for in-home consumer use.”
In addition, serological tests for COVID-19, the testing MDBox is using to test in Austin administered by a medical professional, should not be used to base a diagnoses for the virus according to the FDA, as the test only detects antibodies. To confirm a positive or negative case of COVID-19 the FDA suggests a follow-up test, in addition to the serology test.
The manufacturer, BioMedomics, providing the tests for MDBox, is however listed as a notified manufacturer on the FDA website, which means the manufacturer has assay validation and does not object to the use of these tests.
Hays County Commissioner Walt Smith said Becerra had not discussed specifics of any testing agreements with the members of the court or to his knowledge with public health professionals in the county.
“At this point, the judge has yet to share any details whatsoever as to the acquisition of these tests and refused to answer even the most basic questions in court as to the contract or arrangement,” Smith said. “I look forward to learning more but remain concerned that public health is jeopardized for the benefit of a private company.”
The tests are an agenda item at today's Commissioners Court, which begins online at 9 a.m.
Community Impact Newspaper reached out to Becerra multiple times. He could not be reached for comment.