Tags: Coronavirus | Coronavirus Special | Health Topics | Trump Administration | Cold/Flu | cdc | centers for disease control

CDC Conflating Diagnostic, Antibody Tests for Coronavirus

robert redfield speaks during a coronavirus task force daily briefing
CDC Director Robert Redfield (Alex Brandon/AP)

By    |   Thursday, 21 May 2020 10:57 PM

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admitted it is been combining the results of diagnostic coronavirus tests and coronavirus antibody tests – and that could be affecting the timing of reopening in some states, The Atlantic reported.

Including antibody test results distorts data on the prevalence of the coronavirus and can overstate the ability to safely begin the reopening process, the news outlet reported.

A positive COVID-19 test means a person is currently carrying the coronavirus, while a positive antibody test suggests the individual has been infected in the past.

States have set quantitative guidelines for reopening their economies based on these flawed data points.

Several states — including Pennsylvania, the site of one of the country's largest outbreaks, as well as Texas, Georgia, and Vermont — are blending the data in the same way. 

Virginia likewise mixed viral and antibody test results until last week, but it reversed course and the governor apologized for the practice after it was covered by both the Richmond Times-Dispatch and The Atlantic.

Maine similarly separated its data; Vermont authorities claimed they did not know they were doing this, The Atlantic reported.

"Because antibody tests are meant to be used on the general population, not just symptomatic people, they will, in most cases, have a lower percent-positive rate than viral tests," Harvard professor of global health Ashish Jha told The Atlantic.

Jha says the CDC's combination of the two tests makes their results "uninterpretable," and  the distortion will "drive down your positive rate in a very dramatic way."

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admitted it is been combining the results of diagnostic coronavirus tests and coronavirus antibody tests – and that could be affecting the timing of reopening in some states, The Atlantic reported.
cdc, centers for disease control, testing, antibody, diagnostics
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2020-57-21
Thursday, 21 May 2020 10:57 PM
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