The New York Times reports that up to 90% of positive COVID PCR tests should have been negative, claims a video posted to YouTube on September 4 and shared more than 9,300 times on Facebook. The PCR test, or reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction test, is the most common test used to screen for COVID-19.
Up to 90% of positive tests in several states in our country should have been negative, according to new bomb-like report, can we read in the subtitles of this translation of an English video published by the American network One America News Network (OANN).
It is also possible to see scrolling on social networks publications or memes claiming that PCR tests are 90% ineffective, and that the statistics of people infected with COVID-19 are therefore inflated.
However, this is not what the article in the New York Times in question. Its author, Apoorva Mandavilli, has also strongly denounced on Twitter this interpretation of his post.
To those who are twisting the PCR article to think this is why US numbers are lower: a big NOPE. People who test positive on the PCR are infected, they just may not be infectious.
– Apoorva Mandavilli (@apoorva_nyc) September 3, 2020
To those who twist the PCR test article to say that’s why the US statistics are so high: that’s a big NO. People who test positive are infected, but they just may not be able to pass the infection on., she wrote.
What the article in the New York Times
August 29, New York Times published an article entitled
coronavirus est positif. Peut-être ne devrait-il pas l’être","text":"Votre test du coronavirus est positif. Peut-être ne devrait-il pas l’être"}}”>Your coronavirus test is positive. Maybe it shouldn’t be.
In it, Dr. Michael Mina, an epidemiologist at the TH Chan Harvard School of Public Health, explained that PCR tests, the most popular kind of test for COVID-19 in the United States, are showing results. positive for people who have a very low viral load, which is the number of viruses that carry COVID-19 in their body. These people are often asymptomatic or in remission.
Dr Mina complained that these extremely precise tests only indicate the presence of the virus, but do not give information about the viral load. In addition, these tests are expensive and sometimes take a few days to receive a result.
He explained that this can cause traffic jams in the healthcare system, as people who can no longer transmit the infection are treated the same as people who have a high viral load and are therefore highly contagious. According to him, this results in a waste of resources, while these are deployed to isolate and to carry out contact tracing of people who are no longer contagious.
We use one data for everything, and it’s positive or negative, that’s all, said Dr Mina. We use this data for clinical diagnosis, for public health, for political decisions.
In the article, it is pointed out that in a sample of positive tests compiled in the states of Massachusetts, New York and Nevada, nearly 90% had a low viral load, hence the statistic put forward in the OANN video.
Dr Mina and other researchers consulted in the article simply believed that the PCR test as currently designed was possibly too sensitive and too expensive for the current state of the pandemic in the United States.
coronavirus au début de la pandémie. Par contre, pour les foyers d’infection actuels, [le Dr Mina affirme] qu’il faut des tests de coronavirus qui sont rapides, peu coûteux et amplement disponibles pour qu’on puisse tester toutes les personnes qui en ont besoin – même si les tests sont moins sensibles","text":"Des tests PCR très sensibles semblaient être la meilleure option pour traquer le coronavirus au début de la pandémie. Par contre, pour les foyers d’infection actuels, [le Dr Mina affirme] qu’il faut des tests de coronavirus qui sont rapides, peu coûteux et amplement disponibles pour qu’on puisse tester toutes les personnes qui en ont besoin – même si les tests sont moins sensibles"}}”>Highly sensitive PCR tests seemed to be the best option for tracking down the coronavirus at the start of the pandemic. On the other hand, for the current foci of infection, [le Dr Mina affirme] that coronavirus tests are needed that are quick, inexpensive and widely available so that we can test everyone who needs them – even if the tests are less sensitive, is it written in the article.
Nowhere is it mentioned that PCR tests give false positive results, let alone 90% of the time. The article simply explained that these tests can detect tiny amounts of the virus, that they give a positive result in people who are possibly no longer contagious, and that it should instead be able to better identify people who are still contagious. put in place more effective strategies to contain the pandemic.
Benoit Barbeau, virology researcher in the Department of Biological Sciences at UQAM and member of the Intersectoral Health Research Network of the University of Quebec (RISUQ), specifies that, even if these tests detect a weak presence of the virus, it does not The fact remains that the person has been exposed to the coronavirus.
These are not really false positives. After all, these are people who have been infected., he ruled during a telephone interview.
These figures are far from false and are in fact informative to give us an idea of the number of people in the population who have been infected., he adds.