General Question

Pandora's avatar

Is it possible that there are false negative test for covid because the disease is mutating?

Asked by Pandora (28716points) 1 month ago

We know about false positives but there also seems to be false negatives as well and it has me wondering if the test won’t work on a mutated version of the virus. I also am wondering if it has mutated because I read that some people don’t get it real bad in their lungs. Some show damage to intestines and heart and other organs and little to no damage in the lungs. It’s a low percentage of asymptomatic people. I was listening to a doctor on the news that said the people who are hospitalized for COVID who have bad diarrhea seems to have a higher death rate than the rest.
So it had me wondering if perhaps there are more than one version of the disease and if that can effect the accuracy of the tests.

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19 Answers

filmfann's avatar

My son-in-law’s mother just died, and Covid was a contributing factor.
When she was admitted to the hospital, they gave her two tests for Covid. The tests came back double positive.
They administer two tests because of the unreliability of the tests. If the issue was because of a mutation rendering the test not viable, then repeated tests would also read negative.

Pandora's avatar

Sorry about your SIL mother, but what if it just so happens that she has contracted Covid that wasn’t mutated?

JLeslie's avatar

Doubtful. Everything I’ve read or heard is that the parts of the virus that are mutating have nothing to do with what the tests detect or what gets the virus into our cells and then begins replicating. But, things could have changed recently. Everything I read about mutations was over two months ago.

I don’t know why the tests are so in accurate. I heard on TV it is the rapid test that is wildly inaccurate. I don’t trust rapid strep test either.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Why aren’t we using the term evolving instead of mutating?

Is it because some populations deny evolution (as a principle) along with a lot of other science? Are wqe misstating what is really happening?

The corona virus is fast paced virus evolution.

JLeslie's avatar

@elbanditoroso Maybe it’s called a mutation or genetic drift when it doesn’t really change the disease it causes or how contagious it is? Evolution to me indicates a mutation that creates a change in the survivability of the organism. Maybe you can use the words interchangeably? It’s been a long time since high school science class for me.

I think evolution would also need to be something that gets passed down, not a random mutation, but I guess that is happening with the mutations in covid, it is being replicated.

I don’t think it’s some sort of conspiracy against the word evolution, but maybe you are right that the word mutation will be more acceptable to the religious right crowd.

Pandora's avatar

@mazingerz88 Interesting read. Thanks.

mazingerz88's avatar

^^It was interesting to read that virus mutation doesn’t necessarily mean that it has gotten worse? That it also could weaken. I have to read that article again later. I just quickly scanned it.

kritiper's avatar

We can only hope!

LadyMarissa's avatar

One of the crew of one of the cruise ships had tested positive way back in March & he wasn’t allowed to return home until he had 2 negative tests. They gave him a test every day.He tested positive one day, negative the next, positive the next, negative the next, but he couldn’t seem to get 2 negatives in a row. I don’t trust test because this guy was given 10 tests & he never had 2 positive nor 2 negative t.\ests in a row. How do we know whether or not he had it??? I’m pretty damn sure that he didn’t have it only 50% of the time!!!

Pandora's avatar

@LadyMarissa I think it’s probably more accurate to test positive. What I mean by that, is the positive tests I assume has to have some of the virus to come up as positive whereas to come up negative all that would have to happen is for the virus not to be on the swab. Wouldn’t mean it may not be anywhere else in the body at the time of the test. They say if the swab in the nose has to go way in the back of your sinuses to pick up enough of the virus to come out positive on the test. So it could be just poor testing in those cases. Or maybe like I mention maybe the virus changes and that affects whether it’s detectable in the test. But I’m no scientist or doctor. This is just me speculating from what I’ve read.

Which is why I posted my question. I’m curious if any one else in fluther may have an idea about whether the test would work on a mutated version of the virus.

oliverthom707's avatar

I think evolution would also need to be something that gets passed down, not a random mutation, but I guess that is happening with the mutations in covid, it is being replicated.

LadyMarissa's avatar

@Pandora I agree with you, but I have NO actual knowledge…only what I know that has happened to others.

My BFF tested positive about 2 weeks ago. When I asked her about how they did the test, she said that they had run a swab around the inside of her nose & that it wasn’t bad. I had heard that from several others that I know. My BFF asked the nurse why they hadn’t done the invasive swab & she said that they had stopped using that one because they were getting similar results with the shallow swab. They told her that IF she had NO symptoms after 14 days that she should be fine to be around her family again. She’s not the type to just “assume” anything, so she went back in for another test at the end of the 14 days. She said this time that they dug half way up into her brain for the swab & her test came back negative. Now I’m wondering at what point in the nose does the virus take hold & IF the depth of the swab has anything to do with the results of the test???

Pandora's avatar

@LadyMarissa Your points made me research it in a different way and I found this article that explains why some test come up negative and I was right about positive test being usually correct. It’s the negatives that may be wrong for various reasons.

LadyMarissa's avatar

@Pandora THANK YOU…tons of good info…even better, it doesn’t come out of the US political system & it makes sense!!! I sent it to my BFF who just received her negative test. Her husband has cancer & he’s NOT strong enough to battle this disease as well.

Pandora's avatar

@LadyMarissa , I’m glad it was helpful. I’m glad to see the positive tests were 99 percent correct. I imagine that the tiny bit that was wrong could’ve been human error in the lab. Like when you order something of a certain color through Amazon and they send you a completely different color but the box was labeled with the wrong color.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
LadyMarissa's avatar

Awww, we all know that Amazon wouldn’t do that!!! Don’t you know that it’s ALL your fault for not having your monitor calibrated to the right color level??? LoL

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