Back in August, The New York Times ran a very interesting report. Shortly after the coronavirus broke out, the Grey Lady states there was a huge push to test people in hopes of containing the spread. However, what was found out later were large numbers of people were testing positive for COVID-19 despite have small amounts of the virus in their bodies making them less susceptible to infection.
At first the reaction from the medical community was to test everyone. But to do so would only reveal whether or not the patient was infected and not how much of the virus a patient’s body contained. People can be exposed to and even carry the virus but not have any symptoms nor actually spread it to others.
As it turns out, the cycle threshold is the number of amplification cycles needed to detect the virus but this key element is not included in patient reports doctors receive, despite it being able to tell them how infected patients are. The solution was to change the cycle limit used to determine infection levels which, in turn, would result in fewer people needing to quarantine and contact trace. From The Times:
“…Most tests set the limit at 40, a few at 37. This means that you are positive for the coronavirus if the test process required up to 40 cycles, or 37, to detect the virus.
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, Dr. [Michael] Mina said.
Any test with a cycle threshold above 35 is too sensitive, agreed Juliet Morrison, a virologist at the University of California, Riverside. “I’m shocked that people would think that 40 could represent a positive,” she said.
A more reasonable cutoff would be 30 to 35, she added. Dr. Mina said he would set the figure at 30, or even less. Those changes would mean the amount of genetic material in a patient’s sample would have to be 100-fold to 1,000-fold that of the current standard for the test to return a positive result — at least, one worth acting on.”
Earlier this month, the Florida Department of Health issued a rule mandating labs in the state to report the cycle threshold to the agency for every test they conduct. The end result should be that Florida coronavirus data will be reported more realistically in order to find out who truly is at risk of being a transmitter of the illness. Hopefully, Governor Ron DeSantis will also look to police or somehow make an example of a few of the labs that report inflated data in order to prevent others from trying to get around the rule.
In the meantime, don’t be surprised if Joe Biden takes office and the CDC issues a rule lowering the PCR cycle test rate that is not reported by the press. Then, all of the sudden, virus infections and related deaths go down or vanish and Creepy Joe Biden can take credit for ending the outbreak in the U.S.
PHOTO CREDIT: By Mehr News Agency, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=88529311