(ReliableNews.org) – You can’t solve problems that you don’t know about. This is especially true when it comes to identifying those infected with COVID-19. That’s why President Trump’s administration has been rolling out virus testing kits across the country over the past few weeks.
These testing kits are reaching many areas of the country and being processed as quickly as possible. The big question is: are those tests accurate? Maybe not.
It seems that coronavirus testing kits may not be as reliable as doctors initially thought.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting doctors are skeptical of the tests. Their concern stems from the FDA’s flexibility for test kit developers. The FDA has approved 20 tests for the virus so far and each one could have different false-negative results. This means a coronavirus carrier is actually infected by the virus despite testing negative for it. Some testing kits have false-negative rates of up to 33%.
If one-third of tests can give false readings, then the extent of the COVID-19 outbreak could be significantly worse than the numbers show. As of April 4, there are over 300,000 known cases of infection in the US.
Hypothetically, if the 300,000 figure only accounts for two-thirds of the total known cases, then there could be another 112,500 infections. In fact, testing kits shipped to European countries from China have testing rate failures of up to 80%.
If we don’t know the full extent of the outbreak, then we can’t properly deal with it. Testing rate failures may be less of an issue in places with low infection rates because there’s still time to react and limit the spread. But, it’s a big deal for epicenters because people in large areas may need to quarantine. Authorities need to know which areas based on testing results.
Asymptomatic Individuals Complicate Matters
Iceland is in a unique situation with its small population and isolated geography, which allows it to provide very useful data for researchers across the globe. The country has aided in tracking the spread of the virus by studying its mutations. It’s also been able to give estimates of how many individuals are asymptomatic.
According to tests run by deCODE Genetics, about 50% of individuals with the coronavirus show no symptoms. They would have played a key role in spreading the virus without even realizing it.
What does all of this mean for the average American?
First and foremost, practice social distancing and follow your state’s guidelines to help slow the spread of COVID-19. You may also need to be tested multiple times if you think you’ve been exposed to the virus. This is an invisible enemy that we can only fight through mitigation until our scientists develop a vaccine.
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