UVA doctor discusses the potential for false positives

FILE(Ted S. Warren | AP)
Published: Jan. 16, 2022 at 7:37 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - With more people looking for places to see if they have COVID-19, some are curious about the validity of the tests.

Dr. Patrick Jackson, an infectious disease specialist with UVA Health, says there is the potential for some rapid antigen tests to provide a positive result for things like common cold viruses that are similar to COVID-19 at the molecular level.

“The PCR tests will not be positive for other coronaviruses that circulate around, so the PCR tests are very specific for SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19. We do know that the antigen is less sensitive and specific than the PCR tests,” Dr. Jackson said.

However, Jackson says with the amount of COVID-19 circulating, now is a good time to trust a positive result.

If this is a concern for you, he says a PCR test may be the best choice.

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