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PCR tests: government admits they can pick up fragments of dead virus

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Skimpot flyer

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Former BBC journalist Sue Cook tweeted a link to a government publication

COVID-19: management of staff and exposed patients or residents in health and social care settings​


In section 6 there is the following admission (my bold)
Immunocompetent staff, patients and residents who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 by PCRshould be exempt from routine re-testing by PCRor LFD antigen tests (for example, repeated whole setting screening or screening prior to hospital discharge) within a period of 90 days from their initial illness onset or test (if asymptomatic) unless they develop new COVID-19 symptoms. This is because fragments of inactive virus can be persistently detected by PCR in respiratory tract samples following infection – long after a person has completed their isolation period and is no longer infectious.
This confirms what many ‘conspiracy theorists’ have been saying all along, surely? That the PCR test is fundamentally flawed, and measures up to and including lockdown have been based on flawed information.
Why is this not all over the news?
 
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Huntergreed

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Because anything that supports lockdown or is likely to induce fear is news-worthy, whereas any news that seems even remotely positive or anti-lockdown is deemed totally unacceptable by the mainstream media.

In all seriousness, this just goes on to further highlight how farcical this is all getting.
 

kieron

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Former BBC journalist Sue Cook tweeted a link to a government publication
The tweet is here, with her original comment on the subject here.

This confirms what many ‘conspiracy theorists’ have been saying all along, surely? That the PCR test is fundamentally flawed, and measures up to and including lockdown have been based on flawed information.
I'm afraid you'll have to join the dots on this one. The document you linked to is quite a long one. What in it gives you the impression that the PCR test is "fundamentally flawed"? Or that the PCR test is responsible for any of the actions the government has taken?
 

Ediswan

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In the future, this might cause a problem for people intending to travel to a country requiring a negative PCR test. It would be possible to test positive from an infection which has passed, maybe not even noticed at the time.
 

johnnychips

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Eight people at my workplace got Covid, two of whom were quite ill, in September. They were concerned that future tests might pick this up. The Lateral Flow Tests haven’t. Obviously can’t speak for the PCR.
 

yorkie

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Yes this isn't news as such. I recall some British women were stuck in Italy (if I recall correctly) for many weeks for this reason.
 

Yew

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Any other tile 'Dodgy tests pick up dead virus in healthy people' would be a front page scandal.
 

kieron

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Any other tile 'Dodgy tests pick up dead virus in healthy people' would be a front page scandal.
Not really. If you understand a test's limitations, you can plan for them. In this case, they've decided not to retest immunocompetent people within 90 days of a positive test unless they have new Covid-19 symptoms, among other measures. If you were travelling to Italy, you'd use different measures.

As for the front page, it's hard to guess what it takes at a time when "rich white guy doesn't think his family is racist" is enough to do it.
 

Skimpot flyer

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Not really. If you understand a test's limitations, you can plan for them. In this case, they've decided not to retest immunocompetent people within 90 days of a positive test unless they have new Covid-19 symptoms, among other measures. If you were travelling to Italy, you'd use different measures.

As for the front page, it's hard to guess what it takes at a time when "rich white guy doesn't think his family is racist" is enough to do it.
The point is not that they will no longer carry out a second test within 90 days of a positive test.
The point is that if you are going to shape policy and base restrictions on people’s liberty on ‘case’ figures, you need a testing regime that correctly identifies infectious persons.
Not one that is so sensitive (PCR) that it wrongly identifies people who may have had the virus up to 3 MONTHS previously, who have recovered and are no longer infectious. Scrapping test #2 does not address the problem that test #1 may be a bogus ‘case’, and cannot be relied upon. But hey, if keeping the public terrified is your aim, the Mode is ‘Everything Counts In Large Amounts’
 

kieron

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The point is not that they will no longer carry out a second test within 90 days of a positive test.
The point is that if you are going to shape policy and base restrictions on people’s liberty on ‘case’ figures, you need a testing regime that correctly identifies infectious persons.
Not one that is so sensitive (PCR) that it wrongly identifies people who may have had the virus up to 3 MONTHS previously, who have recovered and are no longer infectious. Scrapping test #2 does not address the problem that test #1 may be a bogus ‘case’, and cannot be relied upon.
The point is that health and social care employers do not shape policy, and this guidance does not tell politicians to do anything.

I don't know that much about the tests available, so perhaps there is a much better test they could use. If not, then employers will have to face situations where they know someone has been infected, but don't know how long ago, or how much of a risk that person is to others. Keeping the member of staff away from vulnerable people for 10 days reduces that risk.

If you're worried about what a politician does with the statistics these tests produce, rather than with how a health or social care provider finds out that people have Covid-19, then that's a fault in the politician rather than the test used. If we went back to only testing people who were admitted to hospital with Covid-like symptoms, then they could abuse those numbers just as easily.
 
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