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Antigen tests: Explaining Elon Musk’s ‘extremely bogus’ results

Antigen checks for COVID-19 commerce away accuracy for the sake of pace, so false negatives are fairly frequent.

Antigen checks have not too long ago been within the information after billionaire Elon Musk stated one thing “extraordinarily bogus” is occurring as a result of he obtained two optimistic and two unfavorable COVID-19 outcomes from 4 antigen checks.

However statements like that present a elementary misunderstanding of antigen checks, that are identified to sacrifice accuracy for the sake of speedy outcomes.


Are antigen checks much less correct than different kinds of COVID-19 checks?


Sure. Generally a molecular take a look at is required to substantiate unfavorable outcomes.


The Meals and Drug Administration has a web page on COVID-19 testing fundamentals that was final up to date on November 6. It breaks down three sorts of COVID-19 checks on that web page: molecular checks, antigen checks and antibody checks.

In response to the FDA, “Optimistic outcomes [with antigen tests] are normally extremely correct, however false positives can occur, particularly in areas the place only a few folks have the virus. Unfavourable outcomes could must be confirmed with a molecular take a look at.”

A part of the explanation some nonetheless go for the antigen take a look at anyway is the pace.

“Antigen checks normally present outcomes diagnosing an lively coronavirus an infection sooner than molecular checks, however antigen checks have the next probability of lacking an lively an infection,” the FDA says. It says you could get the outcomes of antigen checks in 15 to 30 minutes, whereas the opposite sorts of checks might provide you with outcomes as quickly as the identical day or might make you wait so long as per week.

And the take a look at may be much more inaccurate if the take a look at is finished incorrectly. Earlier this month, the FDA despatched a letter to healthcare suppliers that warned of false positives with antigen checks “together with when customers don’t comply with the directions to be used of antigen checks for the fast detection of SARS-CoV-2.” It then outlined suggestions for minimizing the chance of false positives.

MIT Medical defined in Might that “the antigen take a look at seems for molecules on the floor of the virus.” On the time, MIT stated they may very well be used for screening sufferers with signs “the identical manner we use fast strep checks or fast flu checks. We all know that each one of those fast checks miss people who find themselves actually sick, however a optimistic result’s nearly at all times right, and a extra delicate take a look at is obtainable as a follow-up for symptomatic sufferers who take a look at unfavorable.”

So, blended outcomes from a fast antigen take a look at don’t show that there’s something “bogus” happening with COVID-19. That’s simply the character of a kind of take a look at that produces fast outcomes.

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Cindy has great experience in creating and editing articles on different topics. She loves to read novels and write about the latest topics. She’s also good at writing for our website. You can shoot mail @ cindy@rexweyler.com to discuss anything current topic.

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