FDA says PCR tests for COVID are ‘gold standard’ after CDC admits they catch old infections

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Questions about the sensitivities of PCR tests have lingered since summer 2020, but FDA stands behind them as the best detection tool for COVID-19.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky’s recent admission that common tests for COVID-19 can detect long-gone infections has some calling into question the Food and Drug Administration’s claim that the tests represent the “gold standard” for diagnosing coronavirus.

The CDC’s new caution also falls in line with reports going back 16 months about widespread false positives among the so-called PCR tests, particularly when labs run them at high “cycle thresholds,” which pick up viral loads that may be dead or too small to transmit.

The CDC’s decision Monday to halve the recommended “isolation” time for asymptomatic COVID-19 infections amid the Omicron wave, regardless of whether individuals test negative, prompted consternation in some medical circles. 

The agency justified the new 5-day isolation by claiming “the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after.”

But Walensky also emphasized that neither rapid antigen tests, which are currently in short supply, nor PCR tests were appropriate for determining if a person can safely leave isolation.

She told CBS Mornings that antigen tests may not be sensitive enough to detect infectiousness, while PCR tests are so sensitive that “it can stay positive for up to 12 weeks, for months and months.” People would have to stay isolated “for a very long time if we were relying on PCRs,” she told Good Morning America.

The significance of Walensky’s declaration, which has sweeping implications for COVID policy in the workplace, school and travel settings, went largely unnoticed except among skeptics of COVID policy.

“Think of all the lives ruined, jobs lost, education squandered b/c of false positives,” tweeted Justin Hart, chief data analyst for the COVID contrarian website Rational Ground.

“We’ve been saying since summer 2020 that the PCR test can be positive at 5 days or 75 days. And ONLY JUST NOW is it being used to adjust policy,” he said. Neither Rational Ground nor Hart responded when asked to provide his sources.

Hart is suing Facebook, Twitter and the feds for viewpoint discrimination by “conspiring … to censor messages with which [the government] disagrees.” The suit was triggered by Facebook suspending him over a graphic questioning the science behind school mask mandates.

By Greg Piper

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