Updated information about COVID testing Jan 1, 2022.

health.ucdavis.edu

 

 

By Paul Goldfinger, MD, FACC  Jan 1, 2022:      This was originally posted in April on our New Jersey blog site  (Blogfinger.net), but it is now updated and you can find it valuable even though you are in Florida now. New Jersey and Florida have been spiking with the Omicron virus lately, and more spikes are expected.

 

I have noticed that some non-medical friends of mine have been reading about the virus and now believe they are experts.  One emailed me and expressed the opinion that a positive COVID test  might  merely  be a “false positive.”

It is scary that lay people can read a few internet articles and emerge as experts.  To push the idea of “false positive”  PCR COVID tests is to ignore the potentially fatal effects of COVID infections and the need to act quickly with treatment.

The truth is that PCR tests  (deep nasal swabs) are accurate, and false positive tests are rare, and if someone believes that false positives are common, they may waste time running around trying to get more tests done, and their lives may be threatened by the delay.

To give credit to news media (radio; cable) they have often been bringing true experts to discuss the matter.   But some talk-radio hosts speak as if they are experts.

Here is a link  NJ Dept of Health.

 

PCR tests look for virus antigens–ie pieces of the virus.  So if a PCR test is positive it is likely to be a true positive.

But there is one caveat:  Once you have been infected, your PRC test can remain positive for a few weeks or up to 12 weeks. So, if that is your case and now you feel fine, you are probably not infectious, but be careful.

The NJ Dept of Health does not require retesting after you have been infected and quarantined for 10 days, so they are not worried about lingering positive tests, but such results can be confusing.

Antibody infusions are most effective when given early in the infection.  The best bet is to believe the test results.  Currently there is a shortage of antibody infusions.

Another potential fatal decision is when early symptoms are not checked out with a test.  It is so easy to have a test done, so why waste time if you are ill.   If you feel sick, get a test done. Then contact your doctor to tell him you went for a test.

Remember that you can be exposed to the virus and actually be infected, but feel fine.

That’s because the  virus has an average incubation period of 2-3 days or even longer before developing symptoms or positive test results, and yet you can still be infectious.

So if you are incubating and your test may be negative early on, you should stay quarantined and then get tested in a few days. Check with your doctor about timing.

Meanwhile, if exposed, behave as if you are infected  (ie quarantine and also mask  and distance at home if possible; ) especially if you have a vulnerable person at home such as someone who is elderly and/or immune compromised. And then you can rely on your test if you waited a few days before going.

Jersey Shore Hospital  gave me a statement which said, “Our test BioFire RP2.1 has been designed to minimize the likelihood of false positive test resultants.”

They also point out that “a negative test does not rule out COVID-19 and should not be used as the sole basis for treatment or patient management decisions.”  They say the possibility of a false negative result should be considered if the clinical picture suggests COVID.

In other words, if you have symptoms which suggest COVID, your doctor may want to start treatment even if you test is negative.  Or he may wait a few days and repeat the test.

Currently, December 2021, there is a huge demand for testing, and it may be difficult to be tested now.  Sometimes you need a quick test such as prior to surgery, or to attend a family gathering, or when returning to school, or boarding a plane to another country, and you may have problems being tested.

If you can manage to have a quick or home kit test, it may be inaccurate or inconclusive. Check with your doctor  as needed.

And there may be some circumstances when a rapid home test is not accepted, as when being tested 3 days before flying out of the country.    Check in advance before making assumptions about rapid home test results.

The Federal government promised to make quick home tests available to all, but they have failed so far. And once they are widely available, the public will need guidelines as to how to use the results.  When in doubt, check with your doctor not some “expert” on You Tube.

Also, some testing companies are trying to rip off the insurance companies (APP article in April)  with tests costing up to $1,000.00 each.   Fraud in this arena is beginning to surface.

We heard that in Florida, in the Miami area, some sources of tests are currently exploiting the situation by charging high prices for inexpensive tests.    There is a fortune to be made in testing, and COVID tests will be used in large numbers for a long time.

I got a copy of my COVID test result done at Jersey Shore, and I was surprised  to see that they not only tested me for COVID but they also tested me for 17 other viruses.   I wonder if all those  virus tests are justified.  Did their injections disease specialists  approve this complicated test or was this a financial decision?

The most important diagnostic test is PCR for COVID-19  and that should  cost less than $100.00.  One area pharmacy offered free testing 6 months ago, but you now need to shop around for testing.

If you need a test go to where you can trust the result.  Consider the hospital or some of the Urgicare centers such as Central Jersey at the Asbury Circle or the one across from the hospital.

CURRENT BULLETIN.   In New Jersey, most of the recent spikes are the Omicron variant.  And about 1/3 of new cases have been fully vaccinated.  (“breakthroughs”)   But if you have been vaccinated and boosted, you should be well protected, but still be careful.