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CDC walks back COVID-19 testing guidance that was reportedly published against scientists' objections

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is walking back its controversial COVID-19 testing guidance change, which was reportedly not written by the agency's scientists and was published against their objections.

The CDC on Friday updated its website to recommend testing "all close contacts" of anyone infected with COVID-19, CNN reports. In August, the CDC's recommendation had been controversially tweaked to say that not everyone exposed to the coronavirus "necessarily" needs to be tested if they don't have symptoms.

This reversal on Friday comes after The New York Times reported that the controversial guidance change last month was "not written by CDC scientists and was posted to the agency's website despite their serious objections." A federal official told the Times a new testing guidance was expected on Friday.

The updated August guidance from the CDC had told those who were in close contact with someone with COVID-19 that if they don't have symptoms, "you do not necessarily need a test unless you are a vulnerable individual or your health care provider or state or local public health officials recommend you take one." But experts quickly decried this recommendation, noting the importance of testing anyone exposed to COVID-19 given the number of asymptomatic carriers.

This was emphasized in the CDC latest's guidance, as the agency now says "due to the significance of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, this guidance further reinforces the need to test asymptomatic persons." Additionally, the updated guidance, the Times notes, now explicitly tells those who have been exposed to COVID-19 and don't have symptoms, "You need a test."

Infectious Diseases Society of America President Thomas File Jr. expressed approval of the Friday guidance change, saying, "The return to a science-based approach to testing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is good news for public health and for our united fight against this pandemic."