Utah Will No Longer Offer COVID Rapid Tests Amid Concerns About False Negatives


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah will not provide residents fast COVID-19 assessments after an evaluation confirmed one model of nasal swabs used at state cellular clinics typically yielded false negatives.

State well being officers mentioned Sunday that they’d analyzed the outcomes from 18,000 individuals who had obtained conventional PCR assessments and fast assessments manufactured by GenBody. More than half the instances a PCR check got here again optimistic, the GenBody swab yielded a adverse outcome.

“While rapid antigen tests are known to be less likely to identify a positive individual, the difference identified in this analysis was higher than expected,” the division mentioned.

Reports of the false negatives got here because the United States experiences an omicron variant-fueled surge, inflicting circumstances, hospitalizations and deaths to spike. In Utah final month, COVID-19 hospital admissions hit an all-time excessive of 125 on Jan. 18.

The fast antigen assessments, designed to detect the presence of viral proteins somewhat than the coronavirus itself, return ends in minutes, in contrast to conventional molecular assessments despatched to labs, which may take days to course of however are proven to be extra correct.

Their fast turnaround instances have led to their widespread use in prisons, colleges and nursing properties.

Federal well being officers have mentioned their analysis reveals fast assessments could be even much less correct at detecting the omicron variant. But Leisha Nolen, Utah’s state epidemiologist, advised The Salt Lake Tribune that the false negatives didn’t seem like correlated with variants.

The state continues to make use of Abbott’s BinaxNOW assessments, which the federal authorities offers to states for use in high-risk settings the place routine testing is advisable.

The state’s evaluation discovered the BinaxNOW assessments yielded much less false negatives than the fast assessments manufactured by GenBody, officers mentioned Sunday.