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STUDY: 90 percent of positive COVID cases not contagious

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A new study says that up to 90 percent of Americans who tested positive for COVID-19 are not contagious because they have too little of the virus to pass it on to others.

“Health experts say PCR testing – the most widely used diagnostic test for COVID-19 in the US – are too sensitive and need to be adjusted to rule out people who have insignificant amounts of the virus in their systems because they’re likely not contagious,” reports the U.K.’s Daily Mail

The study was based on results from New York, Nevada and Massachusetts.

Tests in the U.S. simply measure for the antibodies created after being infected with COVID-19 and don’t measure the extent of the infection in someone’s body. People who have small amounts of the virus may not be infectious or develop a COVID-19 infection.

“We’ve been using one type of data for everything, and that is just plus or minus – that’s all. We’re using that for clinical diagnostics, for public health, for policy decision-making,” Dr. Michael Mina, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health told the New York Times that first reported in the study.

“It’s really irresponsible, I think, to forgo the recognition that this is a quantitative issue,” Mina added.

Mina likened the positive tests to the same thing as finding a person’s hair in a room after they had left it, saying that the U.S. needed to develop different tests to measure COVID-19 as the results impact health policy, public policy and treatment and a simple positive or negative result leads to poor decision-making.

The news comes just a few days after the CDC revised the COVID-19 death total to show that only 6 percent of deaths attributed to COVID-19 were a result of COVID infection alone. The remainder of the victims died from underlying conditions like heart conditions, obesity and diabetes.

That’s important because it helps inform the healthy portion of the population what precautions need to be taken and can help focus on protecting the more vulnerable populations that are at risk for COVID-19 complications.

Taken together, the two reports suggest that perhaps health experts both over-reacted to the virus and were under informed about measures needed to combat the virus.

PCR testing has been controversial, responsible for a number of high-profile false-positive tests that have shaken faith in the U.S. testing regime. In part, that is because diagnosticians are more worried about the results of false-negative tests that would leave someone unaware they have a COVID infection.

“False negative results are more consequential, because infected persons — who might be asymptomatic — may not be isolated and can infect others,” said the New England Journal of Medicine.

Thus, experts over test and over diagnose with terrible results for public policy and health policy.

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