As COVID is once again surging, so is misinformation about COVID tests.
To my surprise, a parent recently told me that she didn’t want her child tested for COVID with a PCR test because she had heard that the CDC had recalled all of the tests.
Of course, that wasn’t true.
“On April 23, 2021, Innova Medical Group recalled their Innova Medical Group SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Qualitative Test.”Stop Using Innova Medical Group SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Qualitative Test: FDA Safety Communication
Only rapid antigen tests from Innova, which we didn’t even use, had been recalled. The recall did not affect hundreds of other rapid antigen and PCR COVID tests.
Misinformation about COVID Tests
Tragically, misinformation about the recall of COVID tests isn’t all that many of us are now hearing about.
There are a lot of other wild statements from folks trying to discredit COVID testing.
And while some of the statements are obviously propaganda, as most folks know that COVID vaccines are not a bioweapon and that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is not the flu, some of the others originated from what seem like a very tiny kernels of truth.
But even those tiny kernels of truth are often being misrepresented.
“After December 31, 2021, CDC will withdraw the request to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of the CDC 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel, the assay first introduced in February 2020 for detection of SARS-CoV-2 only.”
For example, while it is true that the CDC is withdrawing the request for EUA of their 2019-nCoV RT-PCR assay, that only applies to their own 2019-nCoV RT-PCR assay. That’s the COVID test put out by the CDC.
And yes, while we are starting to see more and more combination tests that can detect and identify multiple viral and bacterial diseases, that doesn’t mean that any of other tests aren’t accurate.
“Generally, antigen tests are indicated for the qualitative detection of SARS-CoV-2 antigens in authorized specimen types collected from individuals who are suspected of COVID-19 by their healthcare provider within a certain number of days of symptom onset.”Potential for False Positive Results with Antigen Tests for Rapid Detection of SARS-CoV-2 – Letter to Clinical Laboratory Staff and Health Care Providers
For example, while a COVID test can tell you if you are infected with SARS-CoV-2 and a flu test can tell you if you are infected with the flu virus, neither can detect other viral infections. You wouldn’t expect them to though.
Combination tests, on the hand, are designed to detect multiple infections. Some can detect SARS-CoV-2, RSV, and flu, while others can detect dozens of viral and bacterial infections!
So why not always use the broadest test available?
The combination tests are much more expensive!
And you don’t always need to differentiate between SARS-CoV-2, rhinovirus, RSV, and flu, especially when there has been little or no flu activity and there is no treatment for most of those other infections.
Misinformation about COVID Tests Fact Check
Despite all of the misinformation still being pushed on social media, folks should know that COVID tests, both rapid and PCR, are readily available and can be very reliable.
“Even though PCR tests are widely regarded as the gold-standard for detecting SARS-CoV-2, they are not perfect, and their probability of detecting an infection will vary depending on when that test is performed. A PCR test done to confirm a coronavirus infection in someone who has recently developed COVID-19-like symptoms, is more likely to detect the presence of viral RNA, than a test performed on someone who only became infected the day before, or who became infected several weeks ago.”False negative: How long does it take for coronavirus to become detectable by PCR?
And while COVID tests aren’t perfect, and may sometimes give false negative or false positive results, don’t believe the people pushing the idea that COVID tests can never be trusted.
More on COVID Test Fact Checks
- 7 Things to Know About COVID-19
- What Happens if You Test Positive After Your First COVID-19 Vaccine Dose?
- Why Was My Titer Negative After My COVID-19 Vaccine?
- Breakthrough COVID-19 Infections and Deaths
- The Truth About COVID-19 Vaccines
- I’m Not Anti-Vaccine, I Just Don’t Believe in the COVID-19 Vaccine
- What to Do if You Have Been Exposed to COVID-19
- Getting Tested for COVID-19
- Should You Be Tested for COVID-19?
- CDC – 07/21/2021: Lab Alert: Changes to CDC RT-PCR for SARS-CoV-2 Testing
- FDA – Potential for False Positive Results with Antigen Tests for Rapid Detection of SARS-CoV-2 – Letter to Clinical Laboratory Staff and Health Care Providers
- FDA – Removal Lists of Tests That Should No Longer Be Used and/or Distributed for COVID-19: FAQs on Testing for SARS-CoV-2
- FDA – Stop Using Innova Medical Group SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Qualitative Test: FDA Safety Communication
- WHO – False negative: How long does it take for coronavirus to become detectable by PCR?
- FDA – Genetic Variants of SARS-CoV-2 May Lead to False Negative Results with Molecular Tests for Detection of SARS-CoV-2 – Letter to Clinical Laboratory Staff and Health Care Providers
- Your COVID-19 testing questions — answered
- Fact Check – CDC lab update on COVID-19 PCR tests misinterpreted
- Fact Check – FDA did not recall all COVID-19 PCR tests
- Viral Posts Misrepresent CDC Announcement on COVID-19 PCR Test
- Fact check: CDC test doesn’t conflate COVID-19 virus with influenza
- CDC encourages use of new tests that detect both COVID-19 and the flu
- Claims That CDC’s PCR Test Can’t Tell Covid From Flu Are Wrong
- CDC test can’t differentiate between COVID and the flu? That’s wrong.
- The CDC has not said PCR tests don’t work
- The inventor of PCR never said it wasn’t designed to detect infectious diseases
- Fact check: Inventor of method used to test for COVID-19 didn’t say it can’t be used in virus detection
- Viral Posts Distort WHO Guidance on COVID-19 Tests
- Story Twists Facts on Diagnosing Breakthrough COVID-19 Cases
- What’s a PCR test cycle threshold and why it matters
- 97% of PCR positives aren’t false
- The COVID-19 PCR Test Is Reliable Despite the Commotion About Ct Values
- When A Negative Doesn’t Really Mean Negative: Why Quality Matters Just As Much As Quantity When Testing For COVID-19
- COVID-19 Testing
- WHO to new PCR users: read the damned manual!