Covid Test Misinformation Spikes Along With Spread of Omicron

The added demand for testing and the higher prevalence of breakthrough cases have created an “opportune moment” to exploit.

Absolutely terrible, but maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.

Covid Test Misinformation Spikes along with spread of Omicron

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btw, Tests seem to be in short supply. Is that the case where you guys live?

I was working in a clinical COVID testing lab for a while, and am still working with the clinical department on a COVID sequencing project. They are still using the same PCR test they have been using since early 2020, and I am using that same PCR test to estimate viral titer in the samples I am sequencing right now.

As to specificity and cross reactivity with flu virus, the rumors floating around just don’t hold up. First off, the PCR test is a hydrolysis probe based test that amplifies three different regions of the SARS-COV-2 which means there needs to be specific sequence for two primers and the probe binding site for all three genes. It is highly, highly, highly unlikely that an influenza strain would have cross reactivity with this test, especially when we see really high titers. On top of that, we are sequencing PCR positive samples, and wouldn’t you know it, we get sequence that aligns to the entire length of the SARS-COV-2 genome. Due to mutations there are PCR tests that fail for one or more genes (S gene dropouts have been a constant for a while), but the correlation with sequencing is really the kicker. And yes, our negative controls do not return positive results either at the level of the PCR test or with sequencing.

I’m not familiar with the rapid test, but I would assume it is an ELISA based test. It isn’t too surprising that changing the chemistry of the test will produce false positives. I may look into this later to see what the actual chemistry looks like and what may be causing false positives.

As to supplies, our clinical lab isn’t having problems with getting PCR tests in, nor are other local hospitals from what I have seen. We are on the research side, so we are receiving expired reagents from those clinics because they can no longer use them for diagnostics, but they work great for our research purposes. It is probably a different story in the consumer market. At the same time, there are still major supply chain issues for basic lab supplies and sequencing reagents. For a while there was a 3-4 month waiting list for pipette tips which was a massive pain, and it still isn’t back to normal.

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They have not been too difficult to get here, and I will be volunteering at a drive through testing clinic next week in our community. It will be interesting to see what the demand is.

We have one friend who had a febrile illness over the weekend, I urged to get tested, but the next morning she was fine, and declined testing as it “must of not been Covid” even though had known exposure. She is out and around in the community this week. It seems many do not want to be labeled or diagnosed, and perhaps feel that they are just done with it. In any case, I suspect my friend is just one of many who would rather not know, and do not want to get tested for that reason.

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There may also be requirements at work or elsewhere that would limit what she is allowed to do, if she were in posession of an actual positive test result. I think, at least where I live, where people “are just over it”, this is a huge motivator to pretend everything is fine, and carry on as if the pandemic ended last summer.

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Perhaps Covid affects the brain and causes auto-suggestion to conspiracies and anti-science rebellion. (Just joking!).

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I don’t know your friend’s situation but some people don’t have PTO (sick days to spare). Unless really sick, mum is the word. I mean, people certainly can’t afford to take off work every time they get a “symptom” of Covid as they have been expected to.

As a teacher I have unlimited sick days. We get 15 a year and 3 personal days. Any unused of the sick carry over and if we are force quarantined it doesn’t count against us. Not to mention we can transfer sick time between teachers when needed.

But my fiancé is in a new job and had to burn 3 days a few weeks ago while really sick. Just not feasible to test every time a symptom is found for us. We are both boostered and her job is strict with k95 masks. Not to mention that are so short staffed you can return now without a positive test after just 5 days even with Symptoms (just not severe).

Give her paid sick time if she is quarantined with Covid that doesn’t count against her PTO. We will test a few times a week :man_shrugging:

Vinnie

We get an automated phone call from town hall about once a week, discussing covid stats, vaccination sites, test kit availability, and the like. It’s good to have.

It is true that there are different circumstances that may alter recommendations. My friend by the way is retired, no job worries. I note from other forums that there are now hospital systems who are allowing (?requiring) health care workers to return to work with positive tests if asymptomatic. Sounds a little crazy, but with Omicron it seems like we may be getting to a stage where is will be treated as a cold. Still, there are people dying but it is uncertain how many are Omicron and how many are still Delta. But to send positive testing workers into a hospital sounds risky.

I agree it sounds risky but not having anyone there to work is even riskier. We will be using duct tape to heal broken bones at home soon.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, unfortunately. Where I live, health care worker positivity rates are getting close to 20%. If the positive asymptomatic workers can limit their exposure to COVID patients it would really help.

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