I listen to Dr Michael Osterholm‘s weekly podcasts on the coronavirus pandemic. Last week he talked about, among other things, the different types of tests and what each is good for. I found it interesting and thought you might, too. (I cannot guarantee that I got all of it exactly right. Check out the FDA link below for more authoritative info.)
Diagnostic tests. This is the RT-PCR test, which has both high sensitivity and high specificity. This the test for folks who have COVID-19 symptoms or who have had a known exposure to the virus. It will tell them with a high degree of accuracy whether they are infected.
Screening test. This is a rapid, point-of-care test using the subject’s saliva. It should be used on people who are asymptomatic and have no known exposure. It is 10% or more less sensitive than the diagnostic test.
Surveillance test. This test is useful to know what is happening in a community, and the results are not necessarily returned to the subject. A large number of blood samples are tested for antibodies to determine the prevalence of coronavirus in a given community. This is the antibody test; it can give false positives, but testing at weekly/monthly/quarterly intervals will show community trends.
The FDA has more detailed information about the various type of tests here.
Thanks! The more we know, the safer we can stay!
Thank you for this information, it will be used in my next “discussion” with Steve who thinks we are all blowing this out of proportion. He also thinks the numbers are all “fake”
Yeah… I am living in hell right now, lol.
I second Kat; thank you for this.
Thanks Kat. I’ll take a listen for sure!