The Gold Standard PCR Testing is Being Discontinued in Less Than Six Months

Tests must be accurate, no matter what!

Many of us have had tests for COVID-19. Maybe you had the swab in the nose test or possibly a blood test. A diagnostic test determines if you currently have a disease. A serology test provides results of antibodies from having had an infection or been vaccinated.

COVID-19 PCR Test PCR stands for polymerase chain reaction. It detects genetic material from an organism. It was granted Emergency Use Authorization (just like the current vaccines) to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Simply speaking, the test involved amplifying a sample through successive extractions to determine if genetic material from a viral source is present.

The sensitivity of PCR testing has had issues when the number of extractions is not correct for the sample. Sensitivity is the ability of a test to identify an infected person correctly. Specificity is the ability of a test to identify a person who is not infected correctly.

Retiring the PCR Test The CDC decided this week to retire the current ‘gold standard’ for COVID-19 testing. January 1st, 2022, is the date set to stop using PCR as a COVID test.
Why? Because of too many false-positive results. It is the worst-case scenario for a pandemic. The test might indicate an infected person is not infected, or a person not infected is contagious.

False-Positive COVID Tests False-positive tests usually result from a clerical problem (samples mixed up, cross-contamination, wrong or out of date reagents used, etc.) or from off-target reactions (tests are not measuring what they should measure).

New COVID Test The CDC wants testing facilities to use a multiplexed method that facilitates detection and differentiation of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza viruses. There is a validation protocol set up to ensure that new tests are accurate.

The PCR was adopted because nothing else was as accurate at the time. However, over the past eighteen months, testing has been extensive, and more accurate tests are available.


Sometimes it makes sense to err on the side of safety. Maybe that is what happened. I do not know. When the pandemic hit, no one was prepared to detect, diagnose, or treat the virus. Yet, months have passed, and fantastic progress has been made. I am confident that new and improved tests will continue to be developed.

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin –




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