State recalls 12,000 COVID-19 tests over contamination concerns

CAMP MURRAY, Wash. — The state Department of Health has recalled roughly 12,000 COVID-109 tests kits produced by UW Medicine over concerns that they could be contaminated.

According to a news release from the state, UW Medicine notified the health department about a potential "quality control" issue on Friday, prompting the state to recall the kits that were sent to local public health departments, tribal nations and other state health partners.

“Though the quality control issue has only been observed in a small number of tubes of viral transport media, we adhere to the highest quality standards for COVID-19 testing in Washington state,” said Secretary of Health John Wiesman. “We are working with our partners to have them discard the product and will work to replace them as quickly as we can.”

Viral transport media (VTM) is the fluid that preserves a specimen during transport, such as one collected via nasal swab from a person being tested for COVID-19. Some of the vials of VTM were an unusual color, which prompted UW Medicine to reach out to DOH to work together to investigate potential contamination.

DOH officials believe there is no health risk to patients, as the fluid does not come in contact with patients during a COVID-19 test.

Testing completed today at UW Medicine has indicated that the quality issues did not impact COVID-19 test results.

Health officials said the recall is "out of an abundance of caution."

The state health department says it doesn't have enough supplies to immediately replace all the swabs and tubes being recalled, but another shipment is expected this week.