We are happy to assume the lab clerks testing for the “new coronavirus” are acting in good faith. But what are they testing for exactly? And how reliable is their test?
Here is some little-publicized information that may partially answer these questions.
A Chinese study published by researchers Zhuang GH et al., from the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Xi’an Jiaotong University Health Science Center, titled “Potential false-positive rate among the ‘asymptomatic infected individuals’ in close contacts of COVID-19 patients“, for which the abstract was published in English, arrives at this conclusion:
When the infection rate of the close contacts and the sensitivity and specificity of reported results were taken as the point estimates, the positive predictive value of the active screening was only 19.67%, in contrast, the false-positive rate of positive results was 80.33%. The multivariate-probabilistic sensitivity analysis results supported the base-case findings, with a 75% probability for the false-positive rate of positive results over 47%. Conclusions: In the close contacts of COVID-19 patients, nearly half or even more of the ‘asymptomatic infected individuals’ reported in the active nucleic acid test screening might be false positives.
Link to the paper (English abstract) (archived screenshot)
But where does the test being carried out the world over come from exactly? The answer can be found in this article, published by the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy of the University of Minnesota on January 16th, 2020 (archive 1, archive 2).
A team from the German Center for Infection Research and virologists at Charite Hospital in Berlin announced today that they have developed a new lab test to detect 2019-nCoV and that the assay protocol has now been published by the WHO.
The team was led by Christian Drosten, MD, who directs the Charite’s virology institute and was involved in developing a test for Middle East respiratory coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and was involved in the discovery of SARS-CoV.
In other words, the same doctor who developed the test for MERS, who developed the test for SARS, and who discovered COVID, has now designed the original COVID test; this formed the basis of 250,000 kits for distribution by the World Health Organization (WHO), and subsequent PCR testing kits by other organizations. A PCR test means a genetic signature is being sought.
According to a study published by Kenji Mizumoto et al., more than fifty percent of the people who tested positive on the Diamond Princess cruise ship were asymptomatic. In other words, they weren’t sick. That proportion kept growing as more tests were being carried out.
Of the 634 confirmed cases, a total of 306 and 328 were reported to be symptomatic and asymptomatic, respectively. The proportion of asymptomatic individuals appears to be 16.1% (35/218) before 13 February, 25.6% (73/285) on 15 February, 31.2% (111/355) on 16 February, 39.9% (181/454) on 17 February, 45.4% (246/542) on 18 February, 50.6% (314/621) on 19 February and 50.5% (320/634) on 20 February
Link to the paper (archived PDF)
If at least 50% of people in the Diamond Princess sample who tested positive weren’t sick, and if the test has a significant rate of false positives, it may be reasonable to assume the mortality rate is likely several orders of magnitude lower than officially claimed (by mere virtue of a selection bias, as a significant proportion of healthy people would test positive if large, randomized pools were tested).
Furthermore, if you choose to get tested, you would have to fully trust the test. In case whoever is handling it decides to utter the word “positive”, you may loose any semblance of individual rights. You’d have no way to verify, no recourse, no appeal, no argument, no right.
As far as this author is concerned – and this should not be heeded as advice – the best strategy not to become “infected” seems to be … not to get tested!
It is also probably useful to turn off the telescreen.