Omicron: When people are most infectious, lateral flow tests may fail to detect the variant.
According to a 30-person observational study, daily lateral flow tests may miss a person’s contagious period of up to four days.
A US study found that four people were contagious for days before the tests returned a positive result, calling lateral flow tests, also known as rapid antigen tests, the lynchpin of government plans to avoid another lockdown into question.
In the US group, neither of the two test brands is currently used in the UK.
Based on preliminary laboratory analysis, the UK Health Security Agency reported in December that lateral flow tests were “as effective at detecting Omicron as Delta.”
Although lateral flow tests are less accurate than the “gold standard” of PCR testing, they are simple to make and distribute.
Lateral flow tests can detect Coronavirus infection before symptoms appear.
The devices were able to reduce cases by identifying pre-symptomatic people and allowing them to isolate, according to a Journal of Infection report on daily lateral flow testing at a London hospital.
A PCR, or Polymerase Chain Reaction, test should be performed on anyone who has started to exhibit symptoms.
PCR tests can help diagnose a Covid infection and determine if it’s caused by a novel variant like Omicron.
A group of 30 people from Omicron hotspots were studied in a preprint study conducted by the COVID-19 Sports and Society Working Group in the US.
At the time of the study, these people were undergoing daily lateral flow tests but had already been diagnosed with Covid via PCR testing.
The Omicron variant infected 29 members of the group.
On the first two days of the study, 28 members of the group had viral loads that were within the infectious range, but the rapid test came back negative.
Within the first two days of the experiment, symptoms appeared.
Four cases were found to have transmitted the virus to others while receiving negative test results.
“The policy implication is that rapid antigen tests, when compared to prior variants, may not be as fit-for-purpose in routine workplace screening to prevent asymptomatic spread of Omicron, given the shorter time from exposure to infectiousness and lower infectious doses sufficient for transmission,” the researchers wrote.
It was discovered through PCR testing.
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