Fever Scanners For COVID-19 May Be Inaccurate: FDA
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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an alert to consumers, healthcare providers, and other users of thermal imaging systems that measure body temperature that improper use may produce inaccurate readings. The systems have been used to check for fevers in public places, and are offered as a first line of defense in opening up safely during the pandemic.

However, it may miss that key indicator of coronavirus infection, according to new research. The systems are known as telethermographic systems, infrared thermographs, thermal cameras, and "fever cameras." This alert does not pertain to the handheld, noncontact infrared thermometers (NCIT) used to screen individuals, according to the FDA press office.

The FDA says the risks are more likely to be present where thermal imaging systems scan multiple individuals simultaneously. They have also issued warning letters to firms selling unapproved, uncleared, and unauthorized thermal imaging systems, including Certify Global Inc, Kogniz Inc, Opgal Optronic Industries Ltd, and Thermavis.

Still Useful When Used Properly

While thermal imaging is not an effective diagnostic device for COVID-19, it can determine if someone has an elevated temperature, which can be an important risk management tool during the pandemic when used properly. But improper use and marketing of thermal imaging systems may lead to inaccurate temperature readings and pose a potential danger to public health.

To help reduce risk, the FDA is providing recommendations to consumers, healthcare providers, and other users about the proper and improper use of these systems. In those recommendations, the FDA advice includes measuring only one person's temperature at a time; and allowing time for a person's skin temperature to adjust to environmental changes.

The FDA typically requires thermal scanners and other medical devices be tested for safety and effectiveness under a 510(k) clearance. Additionally, fever is only one possible symptom of a COVID-19 infection and not everyone infected will have an elevated temperature.

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