COVID: Expert warns against using same testing kit for more than one person

A recent report revealed that families in the US have using one COVID testing kit to test multiple people.

Nose swab
© Mufid Majnun/UNSPLASH
Nose swab

The Omicron variant has driven up the rate of infection in countries all over the world, and hence the demand for at-home testing kits. Now the US, amongst several other places, have been facing a shortage of COVID testing devices.

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Group testing

Amidst the crisis, some American families have been using a rather bizarre method to make sure everyone is getting tested for the virus. The Atlantic reported that they’ve been sharing one test for a whole group of people…yes, you heard that right.

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Group testing using at-home testing kits has not been sanctioned by medical or health authorities but this couple from Oregon decided to give it a try with their family before attending a dinner party. Elena Korngold, a mother-of-two, revealed to Atlantic writer Rachel Gutman that she and her husband used one nose swab to collect samples from everyone in her family, before placing it into the BinaxNOW testing card to reveal the results.

The whole family tested negative and hence continued with their dinner plans. Ethan Korngold, husband of Elena, said that if they find themselves in another desperate situation, they would probably do it again. He said:

I think we’re just like other families that are trying to figure out a way through this.

Accuracy of the results

Apparently they’re not the only ones and experts have now been warning people against doing group tests using the same device. Not only is it highly unsanitary to do so, but the tests have not been designed to analyse more than one specimen at a time.

Microbiologist Susan Butler-Wu told The Atlantic that if there is an infected person in the group, their sample could be ‘diluted’ when mixed with those of other people—hence giving a false negative result in the test. Furthermore, people could get infected by sharing a nose swab with someone who possibly has COVID.

When it comes to COVID testing, especially at-home methods, following the instructions are imperative to getting the most accurate results.

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