Did you know that early coronavirus tests result in ‘false negative’ results?

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in the U.S. have found that testing people too early for Covid-19 results in “false negative” results, although they may eventually test positive for the virus.

According to the researchers, one of the few ways to evaluate for the presence of SARS-Cavi-2 infection is a method called reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).Reuters

“Negative tests, whether a person has symptoms or not, do not guarantee that they have been infected with the virus,” JHU study researcher Lauren Kukirka said in a study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. “

“How we respond and interpret negative tests is crucial because we put others at risk if the test is considered perfect,” Kuchiraka added.

According to the researchers, one of the few ways to evaluate for the presence of SARS-Cavi-2 infection is a method called reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).

These tests replicate and detect the genetic material of the virus. However, tests for other viruses, such as influenza, have shown that if a swab misses to collect infected cells, or if the virus levels are too low at the time of infection, some RT-PCR tests may yield negative results.

Since tests give results relatively quickly, they have been widely used in high-risk populations such as nursing home residents, hospitalized patients, and healthcare workers.

Previous studies have shown or suggested false negatives in this population.

For the new analysis, the research team reviewed RT-PCR test data from seven previous studies, including two pre-printed and five peer-reviewed articles. The study covers a total of 1333 breathing samples from a variety of subjects identified by looking for contact in hospitalized patients and outpatient settings.

From this data, the researchers calculated daily false negative rates, and made their statistical codes and data publicly available so that results could be updated as more information was released.

The researchers estimated that people tested with SARS-COV-2 within four days of infection were 67 percent more likely to have a negative test if they had the virus.

When the average patient began to show symptoms of the virus, the bogus-negative rate was 38 percent. The test was best eight days after infection, but still the fake negative rate was 20 percent, meaning that one in five people infected with the virus had a negative test result.

According to the researchers, ongoing efforts to improve the tests and better understand their performance in different contexts will be criticized because more people have been infected with the virus and more tests are needed.

“The sooner people are properly tested and isolated from others, the better we can control the spread of the virus,” the authors wrote.

About the author: Dale Freeman

Typical organizer. Pop culture fanatic. Wannabe entrepreneur. Creator. Beer nerd.

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