MSN/WLWT: Cincinnati doctor talks accuracy of rapid COVID-19 tests in high demand

UC infectious disease expert says rapid test accuracy is improving

With COVID-19 cases continuing to climb, schools back in session and some workplaces and entertainment venues requiring proof of a negative test, demand is growing for at-home rapid COVID-19 tests. In a story produced by WLWT-TV and posted on MSN.com, Carl Fichtenbaum, MD, of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the UC College of Medicine said the accuracy of rapid tests has improved from the early days of the pandemic.

Carl Fichtenbaum, MD, of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the UC College of Medicine

Carl Fichtenbaum, MD, of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the UC College of Medicine/Photo/Colleen Kelley/UC Creative + Brand

"It is a trial and error process and some of the initial tests, a few of them were 50 percent effective, and that's not really good enough," Fichtenbaum said. "Every test has a little bit of slippage here and there. There's no perfect, 100% test."

Fichtenbaum said the effectiveness of the test depends on several factors, including the manufacturer, the person self-administering the test and the timing.

"Depending on when a person was exposed and where they are in the illness, it could be it anywhere from 70 up to maybe 93, 94% accurate," Fichtenbaum said. "If you use our genetic tests, it's much closer to 95% accurate."

Fichtenbaum said false negatives are more common than false positives. He recommends anyone who tests negative with a self-administered test get tested again if they become symptomatic.

"If it's very early on in infection and you're not making a lot of virus, sometimes there's just not enough there to really kick the test positive," he said.

See the entire story here.

Fichtenbaum was also interviewed by WLWT-TV for a story on the FDA debate about booster shots for the COVID-19 vaccine. See that coverage here

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