CORONAVIRUS

State-run COVID-19 test sites stop rapid testing due to alarming number of false-negative results

Feb 7, 2022, 4:43 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 3:59 pm

MIDVALE, UtahIf you are trying to get a COVID-19 rapid test don’t head to a state-run location. Starting on Monday all rapid antigen tests were put on hold due to an alarming number of false-negative results. 

State Epidemiologist Dr. Leisha Nolen said the decision was made after looking at data following concerns raised early last week from state mobile testing partners. Some of these partners were using the FDA emergency authorized GenBody rapid antigen tests because of a shortage of the BinaxNow tests used previously. 

“They noticed that they were getting a lot more negatives that would come up later as positives, or that they also had a lot of people who were testing negative who had very clear symptoms of COVID,” Nolen explained. 

This led to UDOH reviewing data back to late December when they first began using GenBody tests at testing sites. 

The data, Nolen indicated, showed that among 18,000 Utah residents who received both a PCR and rapid antigen test and tested positive for COVID-19 by a PCR test, 62% tested negative by a GenBody rapid antigen test. 

Only 38% received a correct positive result from the GenBody test. 

“We are really concerned by those numbers, and we certainly want to evaluate why this is happening,” Nolen said. 

There is no timeline for how long the investigation into what is happening could take. 

Fiona Hildebrant was one of those who got a false negative result.  

“I had two rapid tests that were both negative and then I had a positive PCR [test],” said Hildebrant who showed up at the state-run COVID-19 testing site in Midvale along State Street. “I thought I was good. I even went to work one day afterwards and then I was like I don’t feel right, and went and got the PCR and it was positive. 

The Midvale location, which was seeing about 500 to 600 cars a day during the surge, was down to about 40 cars in the first five hours on Monday. The team leader at the location believes that no more rapid testing at the site and the governor’s direction to not get tested but to stay home for five days may be playing a role. 

There are a lot of people who like the rapid because it’s convenient you can get it within an hour. I’ve always suggested you do the rapid and the PCR so you have the now and the sure answer,” said Wootton. 

The PCR test takes anywhere from 24 to 48 hours for results.  The state is not saying how long the pause will be for rapid tests. 

Rachel Stoddard was hoping for a rapid test but says she’ll take what she can get.

“It’s disappointing because it’s nice to know right away, but we are happy to get whatever test they have,” said Stoddard. 

You can still get a rapid test by going to www.coronovirus.utah.gov to find locations. 

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State-run COVID-19 test sites stop rapid testing due to alarming number of false-negative results