A Billings company has partnered with a Minnesota biotech firm to sell rapid COVID-19 test kits, despite warnings from Yellowstone County public health officials that the rapid tests can be unreliable.
The Yellowstone County Unified Health Command warned recently the various rapid test kits coming to market are not approved by the FDA and have “serious flaws” with how they detect the virus.
“These rapid tests look for the presence of antibodies, which are produced as part of the immune response to a virus,” the UHC stated in a news release. “Antibodies might not be detectable for three to seven days after infection, during which time a person could be infectious but the test might produce a false negative result.”
By contrast, the testing for COVID-19 done at the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services Laboratory and at the independent laboratories used by health care providers specifically identify the presence of COVID-19.
On the last page of the press materials sent out by Friedel LLC, the local company selling the test, it acknowledges the rapid test kits aren’t FDA approved and detect only the presence of antibodies.
The press materials are from Chris Friedel, former Billings city councilman and current candidate for state Senate District 26, which represents much of south Billings. He is running in the Republican primary against current state Rep. Rodney Garcia, who holds the seat for House District 52.