Police in New London, Connecticut have seized a fake test for COVID-19 — the novel coronavirus — from a local convenience store. The New London Police Department revealed the bust on Twitter, choosing not to name the store publicly. It is also not clear if anyone involved faced charges.
New London Police Chief Peter Reichard posted about the fake COVID-19 test on Monday. He shared photos of the phony test — a foil packet labeled as a SARS-CoV-2 test kit. Inside was a plastic bag containing supplies, but authorities said it would not have done consumers any good. It is not clear if the tests were openly for sale, but Reichard urged the public to stay vigilant about "scams" in their area.
Home CoVID 19 test kit scam. NLPD seized these at a local convenience store. Beware of all the scams related to the pandemic. NLPD your partner in the community! pic.twitter.com/yoLOs3Iz8M— ChiefReichard@nlpdct (@ChiefReichard) April 20, 2020
"Beware of all the scams related to the pandemic," he tweeted. This advice followed a similar warning from the FBI last week, warining the public that fake tests and treatments were sure to pop up in the coming weeks and months, but that they were likely to be scams.
"Also beware of individuals offering to sell you a COVID-19 test kit or supplies, especially when these contacts are unexpected," read the FBI's warning. "A physician or other trusted health care provider should assess your condition and approve any requests for COVID-19 testing. Some scammers are selling fake at-home test kits; some are even going door-to-door and performing fake tests for money. Legitimate tests are offered free to patients when administered by a health care professional."
So far, COVID-19 testing can only be conducted at a medical facility, though the FDA did just approve the first product for collecting samples at home. On Tuesday, the administration announced the LabCorp Pixel test kit would be out within the next few weeks, enabling consumers to collect a mucus sample at home and then mail it securely to a lab for testing, to determine whether they are infected with the coronavirus.
This is a big step in making testing more accessible in the U.S. So far, scientists have very little data about immunity to COVID-19, and fear that even those who have survived it may be able to get re-infected before long. Last week in South Korea, some patients' coronavirus seemed to be "reactivated" even after two negative tests, according to a report by The Hill.
All of this suggests that frequent widespread testing and contact tracing are the only safe means of getting back to public life before a vaccine for COVID-19 is available. For the latest information on the pandemic, visit the websites of the CDC or the World Health Organization.