COVID-19 tests are probably only accurate 70% of the time, warn health experts

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By John Gage

Washington Examiner

Health experts believe that more than 30% of patients infected with coronavirus receive negative test results.

“The whole testing field is evolving,” Bill Miller, a doctor and epidemiologist at Ohio State University, told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. “What is different this time is that most of these tests go through a very quick validation process. As a result, we cannot be completely confident about their performance. “

Mike Lozano, a Florida-based executive for Envision Healthcare Corp., said he believed the coronavirus tests currently available are probably only accurate in about 70% of the cases.

Chris Smalley, a Kentucky-based doctor, said the 70% estimate is becoming a popular estimate by doctors for the accuracy of coronavirus testing. He added that he had seen several negative patients, while exhibiting symptoms of the coronavirus and requiring extended hospital stays.

“A false negative is problematic because it tells the patient that they don’t have the virus,” said Craig Deligdish, a Florida oncologist.

A medical staff member administers a test for the new COVID-19 coronavirus in a car installation in the parking lot of Chessington World of Adventures in Chessington, Greater London, March 28, 2020.


GLYN KIRK / AFP via Getty Images

A February study of 1,000 patients in China found that only 60% of patients were positive for the coronavirus, despite 90% of patients with symptoms of the virus. The laboratory tests used in the study are similar to those used in the United States.

The Food and Drug Administration said in a statement on Monday that the agency needs to balance speed and accuracy when it comes to testing, but added that it would continue to stress the need for more testing.

So far, there have been nearly a quarter of a million confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins. More than 5,300 people died, while more than 8,800 recovered.

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