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Horowitz: Mass testing results: Endless panic and false positives

Conservative Review

Imagine a virus that is such a serious threat … that you don’t even know you have it in most cases unless you get a test? The tail wagging the dog? The cart driving the horse? If we are now going to hold our nation hostage because of this obsession over PCR (polymerase chain reaction) swab tests, we should at the very least make certain they’re accurate.

What happens when we have expedited and chaotic test results driving an epidemic curve rather than actual symptoms? You get what happened to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine last Thursday. He tested positive for the virus after experiencing absolutely no symptoms. But because he is such a VIP, he got a second, more accurate test that showed he was in fact negative for SARS-CoV-2. The same thing happened to Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who tested negative after receiving a false positive and was therefore allowed out of coronavirus prison.

How many more people are really negative, and why don’t people who don’t have such connections get the same due process that DeWine was accorded before upending their lives because of symptoms milder than a cold or perhaps completely nonexistent? And why won’t this experience change DeWine’s entire attitude toward treating every single COVID-19 case like it’s contagious pancreatic cancer, regardless of the symptoms or of whether we can even trust the test results?

This is a serious question that threatens the liberty of all Americans. As the FDA’s most recent fact sheet on PCR tests notes, the dangers of false positives include the following: “A recommendation for isolation of the patient, monitoring of household or other close contacts for symptoms, patient isolation that might limit contact with family or friends and may increase contact with other potentially COVID-19 patients, limits in the ability to work, the delayed diagnosis and treatment for the true infection causing the symptoms, unnecessary prescription of a treatment or therapy, or other unintended adverse effects.”

That’s nothing to sneeze at.

Before our health care industry lost its collective mind, doctors and scientists understood the dangers of defining an epidemic by molecular tests that typically require labor-intensive lab studies to prove their accuracy. Mike Hearn published a fascinating blog post on July 26 citing a 2007 New York Times article about PCR tests driving pseudo-epidemics.

As Gina Kolata reported in the Times on January 22, 2007, with health care workers at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, coughing uncontrollably in the spring of 2006, they were sure there was an outbreak of pertussis (whooping cough). They even had a quick and highly sensitive molecular PCR test that confirmed 142 doctors and workers had contracted whooping cough, which could be fatal to sickly people and infants. But it was all a lie. There was a 100% false positive rate among the tests, and they think those workers just had a very “coughy” version of … the common cold!

Kolata cited several epidemiologists and infectious disease doctors noting that pseudo-epidemics happen all the time and that these rapid super-sensitive tests can fuel the illusion – especially “when hundreds or thousands of people are tested, as occurred at Dartmouth, false positives can make it seem like there is an epidemic.”

Now picture today, when over 65 million tests have been done and nearly 6 million people have been confirmed as positive pursuant to tests that are even more rushed and politicized (and monetized by the industry!) than ever before. Doesn’t anyone want to find out how many of these tests are picking up common colds or other ailments – or perhaps nothing at all?

This epidemic is real, but the obsession with mass testing resting on unreliable tests will ensure that this epidemic never ends – at least not mathematically. The more the death rate plummets, and we see problems of false positives, the more the elites are demanding even more testing.

Just take a look at the moving goalposts. Back in late June, the Harvard Global Health Institute was pushing for 500,000 tests a day, a benchmark promoted by the Covid Tracking Project, which has essentially been driving the data narrative on this virus from the beginning.

They continued to run this number of 500K for the next two days.

On July 11, Covid Tracking tweeted its daily testing chart and noted that Harvard Global Health’s recommended daily testing was now 1.6 million per day.

Harvard Global Health even responded that day to a question about why the recommendation had changed to 1.6M from 500K. The institute responded with a very circular argument.

Fast-forward two more weeks to July 26, and CNN is running banners touting this new number of 3.5 million to 5 million per day. Again, Jake Tapper states during the interview that this has been the recommendation for “months.”

The testing obsession is becoming a cult almost as dangerous as the mask cult. But at the very least, the tests should be accurate.

Let’s not forget, a 2006 study by the University of British Columbia Centre for Disease Control found false positives for SARS-1 in nursing homes in British Columbia in 2003, which really turned out to be H-CoV-OC43, which is thought to be the most common coronavirus cold. It’s reasonable to assume that some or all of the PCR tests designed for SARS-CoV-2 could also be picking up other coronavirus colds, given the cross-reactivity that has been observed between the coronavirus families.

One recent peer-reviewed study of the CDC’s tests in Connecticut found a 30 percent false positive and 20 percent false negative rate. It was a small sample size, but it still raises questions about using such testing as the gold standard to measure the threat of an epidemic. If only 10 percent of the tests are false positives, that would mean nearly 600,000 Americans had their liberties stripped of them without due process.

A stunning, yet barely reported CDC report on July 22 announced that for non-immunocompromised individuals “a test-based strategy is no longer recommended,” unless someone wants to leave isolation before the 10-day recommended quarantine period. The reason for this is obvious. Even putting aside the false positive problem, by the time most people get back their results, they are no longer contagious, yet these hyper-sensitive tests will still pick up dead viral cells and serve no purpose other than perpetuating panic and disruption.

A July study on the duration of viral shedding and infectiousness from the UK, probably the most comprehensive study to date, found, “No study to date has detected live virus beyond day nine of illness despite persistently high viral loads.” The peak shedding is usually around day 5. This is different from SARS and MERS, where the peak shedding of live virus particles occurred during week 2 of the infection. At the same time, they found that dead cells could be shed for as long as two to three months, but most commonly for 16-18 days. Thus, they conclude, “detection of viral RNA cannot be used to infer infectiousness.”

How many of these PCR tests are essentially picking up dead viral cells? By the time a person would test or get back their results, they are no longer contagious. Someone in my neighborhood who had the virus months before she delivered a baby was forcibly separated from her baby because she still tested positive.

With epidemic level of deaths winding down in most places, pushing for more mass testing will only further induce a disproportionate epidemic of panic, fear, and even deceit.

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