Covid Virus: “Tests” vs. “Cases”

Covid virus “tests” vs. “cases,” by Peter Burrows 11/30/20 – Note to readers: The following is a summary of: 

The COVID Case Con Continues By Brian C. Joondeph, M.D. 11/30/20 American Thinker                                                                                                                                          As many Americans recover from their “virtual Thanksgiving,” the media is pushing the narrative that COVID cases are once again surging. The Washington Post claims that cases are “skyrocketing” while the New York Times wails that “It has hit us with a vengeance.” Yet the media is oblivious, either ignorantly or deliberately, to the reality that positive tests are not the same thing as cases.                                          

The CDC provides a specific “case definition.”  A case is NOT just a positive test.  What is needed is “presumptive laboratory evidence AND either clinical criteria OR epidemiologic evidence.”  Notice the AND, meaning not simply a positive test. The current COVID surges are positive tests, and even those are suspect, without regard to whether those who test positive are actually sick or not.  

Given the sensitivity of the COVID PCR test, it is likely that some of those being tested, without any symptoms or exposure, will be reported as test positive and added to the case tickers running constantly on Fox News and CNN. Saying someone with a positive COVID test is a “case” is fraudulent.  

COVID is tested using PCR (polymerase chain reaction) which amplifies any viral fragments found in the nose repeatedly until the test is positive. This is called the amplification cycle and the higher that number the more likely a positive test, even if it is clinically insignificant. From the New York Times

“The standard tests are diagnosing huge numbers of people who may be carrying relatively insignificant amounts of the virus. Most of these people are not likely to be contagious, and identifying them may contribute to bottlenecks that prevent those who are contagious from being found in time.” 

The amplification cycle is the problem:  

The PCR test amplifies genetic matter from the virus in cycles; the fewer cycles required, the greater the amount of virus, or viral load, in the sample. The greater the viral load, the more likely the patient is to be contagious.” 

With too high an amplification cycle, the PCR test is hyper-sensitive. Most commercial tests set this threshold at 40 cycles, whereas it would be more clinical meaningful if much lower, say at 30. Otherwise as the NY Times notes:  

Tests with thresholds so high may detect not just live virus but also genetic fragments, leftovers from infection that pose no particular risk — akin to finding a hair in a room long after a person has left.” 

The CDC admits the test is too sensitive:  

The CDC’s own calculations suggest that it is extremely difficult to detect any live virus in a sample above a threshold of 33 cycles. In Massachusetts, from 85 to 90 percent of people who tested positive in July with a cycle threshold of 40 would have been deemed negative if the threshold were 30 cycles.”                 

With an overly sensitive test, almost 90 percent of the so-called surge is fake news. This is easily understandable basic science. If the CDC and NY Times can figure it out, other “journalists” can as well and should be providing caveats to their surge reporting rather than their typical hair on fire reactions. 

When we look at deaths, we see the same 3-card monte. Death counts are back in vogue.  Johns Hopkins University recently published a study which found: “In contrast to most people’s assumptions, the number of deaths by COVID-19 is not alarming. In fact, it has relatively no effect on deaths in the United States.” (Not surprisingly John Hopkins deleted the study from their website.) 

Case numbers are simply positive tests, perpetuating the con that things are far worse than they really are.  

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