It is known as a “viral load”.
The most commonly used test to determine if someone has COVID-19, known as the PCR test, is positive or negative, that is. But the test does not identify the viral load – the higher the amount of virus, the more likely the patient is to is infected.
“In three test data sets that include cycle thresholds compiled by employees in Massachusetts, New York and Nevada, up to 90 percent of people who tested positive carried almost no virus,” The New York Times reported Sunday. by reviewing the data.
The United States reported 45,604 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, according to a database maintained by The Times. If the degree of contagion in Massachusetts and New York had to be applied across the country, then only 4,500 of these people may actually need to be isolated and subject to contact tracing.
Health experts told the paper that the current PCR test is too sensitive and needs to be improved to determine the viral load ̵
Apoorva Mandavili, the Times reporter who wrote the song, said on Twitter: “NEW: We may have tested the wrong way during all these months of the pandemic. Data from some government laboratories show that up to 90% (!!) of people who test positive are no longer contagious and do not need to be isolated. “
NEW: During all these months in the pandemic, we may have tested the wrong way. Data from some government laboratories suggest that up to 90% (!!) of people who test positive are no longer contagious and do not need to be isolated.
Tighten, this is important. 1 / xhttps: //t.co/rR4aBDK4Xl
– Apoorva Mandavili (@apoorva_nyc) August 29, 2020
“It turns out that PCR, this old reliable workhorse, is too slow and too sensitive to what we need. And it all depends on an indicator called the “threshold of the cycle”, she wrote in another post.
The current PCR test analyzes the genetic material of the virus using 37 or 40 cycles, but health experts say this is too high because it detects even small amounts of the virus that do not pose a risk of infection.
“Tests with such high thresholds can detect not only a live virus, but also genetic fragments, remnants of infection that do not pose a particular risk – similar to finding hair in a room long after a person has left,” Dr. Michael Mina said. epidemiologist from Harvard School of Public Health TH Chan.
“If you adjust this to a more reasonable CT threshold of 30, anywhere from 40% -90% of the lab results for the condition * are no longer positive. * The rest are well above the point of infectivity,” Mandavilli wrote on Twitter. .
“Think about it for a minute.” Think of the thousands of people who have been asked to isolate themselves, abstain from work, and undergo contact tracking. But also think about the unnecessary bottlenecks and all the people who are not tested and isolated * when * they have to be, “she wrote on Twitter. “Imagine a neighborhood on fire.” Here, firefighters have even described the dying embers as a “fire” and are so busy extinguishing them that they lack entire homes that burn and set others on fire. “
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