With the push for more rapid testing these days this is something I believe all Michiganders should know.

When will this onslaught of contradicting, confusing or outright incorrect information end?  Due to the overwhelming amount of incorrect and at times contradicting information hyped by politicians, some in the media and some “scientists” most people are just tuning out and going about their lives.

Now we find out from other doctors, pharmacists and scientists that these rapid tests the government is sending out may not be accurate enough to really help.  We are now being told a negative test result for Covid-19 might not actually mean you do not have Covid-19.

What are we supposed to do with that bit of information?

An article published in MLive from Kaiser Health News informs us of an infectious disease clinical pharmacist for a South Carolina hospital system who did everything she was supposed to do before inviting family over for Christmas and many at the family celebration still contracted Covid-19.

She asked that:

  • family members who were eligible were vaccinated and boosted
  • You are to quarantine and use masks in the days leading up to the event
  • Take a rapid Covid-19 test and provide a negative result

If you met all of the above criteria who were then allowed to come to their Holiday party.  They did and within a week 13 people who attended that party contracted Covid-19.

Dr. William Schaffner, a specialist in infectious diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee said:

Some people mistakenly look at the home tests “like a get-out-of-jail-free card ‘I’m negative, so I don’t have to worry anymore.

Dr. Zishan Siddiqui, chief medical officer at the Baltimore Convention Center Field Hospital and an assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University said:

Each individual test does not have much value as serial testing

Many health professionals say there are too many variables.  The accuracy or usefulness of the test depends on when you take it.  If you administer the test to yourself before enough virus is present to detect it will give you a negative result.  If you administer the test too late you probably have spread the virus.  They also advise people to take two tests a few days apart.

Dr. Patrick Mathias, vice chair of clinical operations for the Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathology at the University of Washington School of Medicine stated that these rapid tests “are pretty good at correctly detecting infection in people with symptoms, with a 70% to nearly 90% range of accuracy estimated in several studies”.

Dr. Shama Cash-Goldwasser, an adviser for Prevent Epidemics at Resolve to Save Lives stated that people who are asymptomatic “on average, [correctly] detect infection roughly 50% of the time”.  She also said “So, right now, “if you get a negative result, it’s important to be more suspicious”.

The recommendation now is to test yourself “three days after a known exposure or, if one feels ill, a few days after the onset of symptoms”.

Have you ever wondered how these tests work?  According to the article:

Antigen tests work by looking for proteins from the surface of the virus, which must be present in adequate amounts for a test to spot. (Lab-based PCR tests, or polymerase chain reaction tests, are more accurate because they can detect smaller amounts of the virus, but they take longer to get results, possibly even days, depending on the backlog at the labs.)

Dr. Shama Cash-Goldwasser, an adviser for Prevent Epidemics at Resolve to Save Lives:

So, right now, “if you get a negative result, it’s important to be more suspicious

What are we to do with all this information?

Your guess is as good as mine.  Yes, when a new virus attacks us doctors and scientists will provide incorrect information and we should all recognize and accept that. Two years into the virus should we be so willing to accept such incorrect information or not believe anything they say?

Whenever a political Party decides to use a health crisis for their own political needs and politicize the crisis can we expect anything different?

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