Clarifying the evidence on SARS-CoV-2 antigen rapid tests in public health responses to COVID-19


03-03-21 02:13:00,

The use of rapid lateral flow antigen testing (LFT) for SARS-CoV-2 has been questioned

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Covid-19: government must urgently rethink lateral flow test roll out.

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Lateral flow tests cannot rule out SARS-CoV-2 infection.

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Covid-19: tests on students are highly inaccurate, early findings show.

with uncorroborated

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A response to “Covid-19: Controversial rapid test policy divides doctors and scientists”.

reports of poor LFT sensitivity. The debate surrounding the use of the Innova Lateral Flow SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Test in the UK risks confusing policy makers internationally and potentially stalling deployment of LFTs in other countries.

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Covid-19: controversial rapid test policy divides doctors and scientists.

As scientists and health professionals evaluating some of the world’s largest pilots of LFT, we wish to challenge those interpretations and clarify the evidence on how such testing might be used to detect SARS-CoV-2 in minutes and improve COVID-19 control measures.

Testing for SARS-CoV-2 is central to COVID-19 management and has relied on quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology. PCR seeks the genetic code of the virus from nose or throat swabs and amplifies it over 30–40 cycles, doubling each cycle, enabling even miniscule, potentially single, copies to be detected. PCR is thus a powerful clinical test, specifically when a patient is, or was recently, infected with SARS-CoV-2. Fragments of RNA can linger for weeks after infectious virus has been cleared,

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Duration and key determinants of infectious virus shedding in hospitalized patients with coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19).

often in people without symptoms or known exposures.

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