Recently, a woman was arrested by police on several charges. The arrest came after undercover investigators successfully completed three separate purchases of testing kits. Unfortunately for the seller, the test kits were not tested and approved by the FDA to ensure the product meets certain accuracy and safety standards. None of the tests confiscated by police had been tested to meet federal safety standards, and it’s possible that the tests themselves don’t even work.
Times like this can be scary, and while the pandemic we face could involve a much, much nastier and more dangerous disease, the one we’ve got is still dangerous and it’s taking people’s lives. It’s certainly reasonable for someone who is living through a pandemic to purchase test kits to help keep themselves or their loved ones safe. However, buying test kits is only a good idea if you know you’re getting an item that has been tested to see if it can actually detect the virus. Additionally, unapproved test kits may be able to detect the virus but, for whatever reason, they aren’t as accurate and can lead to false positives (where you don’t actually have the disease) or false negatives (where you have it, but the test says you don’t). The latter of the two is by far the worst, as someone who is oblivious to their status as a disease carrier can unwittingly spread it throughout their community.
Finally, it’s important to remember that there is a shortage of available equipment (including test kits) that medical professionals desperately need. Local, state, and other government entities are actively trying to supply medical professionals with the tools that they need. If doctors and nurses are having trouble coming up with supplies, do you really think you’re going to magically happen upon some of these desperately needed tests being sold by a nobody on the side of the road?
The suspect was not from the Santa Clarita Valley, and it’s unlikely that anyone from the area purchased test kits from her. Still, it’s best to regard black market COVID-19 test kits with a skeptical eye.