Standard PCR tests may be over-diagnosing non-contagious coronavirus cases


Standard PCR tests are diagnosing huge numbers of people in the US who may be carrying relatively insignificant amounts of virus, and may not be contagious. Rather than skipping testing people without symptoms, as the US CDC has suggested, the solution may be to use less sensitive, though less accurate, rapid tests, which could be performed more frequently and find people when they’re most infectious. However, additional help might lie in including in the results sent to doctors and coronavirus patients the number of amplification cycles used to find the virus, which could give an indication of how infectious they are. The result might mean that many fewer people need to isolate and submit to contact tracing.

Writer: Apoorva Mandavilli
Publication: New York Times