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Why rapid COVID tests aren't more accurate and how scientists hope to improve them

Added 01-23-22 06:07:02am EST - “Recent research ?" and plenty of anecdotes ?" suggest some rapid tests may be less sensitive at detecting omicron if you don't have symptoms. Here's how researchers hope to make them more effective.” - Npr.org

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Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Npr.org: “Why rapid COVID tests aren't more accurate and how scientists hope to improve them”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

Rapid tests can help you figure out if you have been infected with the coronavirus. But how accurate are they? Scientists trying to find out whether they are less sensitive to omicron and why. JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

Rapid tests can help you figure out if you have been infected with the coronavirus. But how accurate are they? Scientists trying to find out whether they are less sensitive to omicron and why.

How much should you trust the results of a rapid antigen test? That's a question many people are asking these days, amid recent research and anecdotes suggesting these tests may be less sensitive to omicron. Researchers are working fast to figure out what's going on and how to improve the tests.

That includes people like Dr. Wilbur Lam, a professor of pediatrics and biomedical engineering at Emory University and one of the lead investigators assessing COVID-19 diagnostic tests for the federal government. His research team began evaluating rapid antigen tests against live samples of the omicron variant last December in the lab, and in early assessments, he says, some tests failed to detect the coronavirus "at a concentration that we would have expected them to catch it if it were another variant."

That finding prompted the Food and Drug Administration to update its online guidance in late December to note that, while rapid antigen tests do detect the omicron variant, "they may have reduced sensitivity."

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