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Are the tests really accurate?

How does inaccurate COVID-19 test results impact us?

The following article written by Christian Yates for The Conversation offers to us a guide for understanding the accuracy of test results. The explain what false positives and false negatives are, and how small changes in the rates can affect entire populations. 

Yates also tells us that in an area where disease prevalence is low, false positives outnumber the true positives. Meanwhile, in an area where prevalence is high, false negatives will outnumber true negatives. The author believes that these errors can be minimized through repeated testing. 

Editor’s Note: No COVID-19 test is 100% accurate. Even the RT-PCR confirmatory test, the gold standard of COVID-19 testing, returns errors [see How Accurate Are COVID-19 Tests?]. 

To discover the importance of this article, one can ask: which error offers more disastrous outcomes: treating people for a disease they don’t have, or letting infected people go back to their communities? If we know and understand the nature of the coronavirus, then it is so much easier to answer this question [This website offers a number of articles explaining the nature, and health outcomes of this virus. See the following categories to learn more: What Exactly Is The Nature Of The Virus? Is It Really That Deadly?].

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2 replies on “How does inaccurate COVID-19 test results impact us?”

[…] The following research conducted by Andrew Cohen and Bruce Kessel is a meta-analysis of the quality of assessments returned by RT-PCR tests. Their results show us RT-PCR tests have higher false positive rates than false negative rates. This means that there is a higher chance for individuals to receive a positive result even when they are actually negative for the coronavirus infection [To understand the implications of this research read How Does Inaccurate COVID-19 Test Results Impact Us?]. […]

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