Scientists Face Prison over Covid Test Contract

2 Ecuadorian scientists face 10–13 years in prison after being embroiled in a criminal case involving Quito’s purchase of allegedly sub-par COVID-19 tests.
 
Scientists and universities have come out in defense of molecular biologist Linda Guamán and public health scientist Ximena Abarca, saying the case is politically motivated.
 
The issue: The tests used LAMP, a technology less sensitive than PCR that has trouble picking up very low levels of virus—but some assessments say the LAMP tests are perfectly adequate for detecting transmissible levels of virus. 

  • Prosecutors claim the scientists made efforts to conceal the tests’ poor quality and should have cancelled the contract. Abarca contends that that would have sent the city on a months-long search for badly needed tests.

 
Bad sign: More broadly, the accusations send a worrying signal to scientists, says Cecilia Paredes Verduga of the Coastal Polytechnic School:
 
“It was comforting to see two scientists working in health in a municipality,” she says. “Now, nobody else will want to get involved in that, and Ecuadorians will lose.”

Science

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