COVID-19 patients showing clinical symptoms have often tested negative for the virus but caused spread and aggregated the infection. Many of the cases were confirmed after repeated tests.
The expert view is that clinical symptomatology and CT scan reports should be guiding factors for treatment instead of only relying on the RT-PCR tests. RT-PCR tests have a sensitivity of only 70 percent.
Dr. Gupta says ” Even the rapid antigen test has a sensitivity of only 40 percent. “So many patients will be missed if we rely only upon these tests. The antibody tests have a sensitivity of 90 percent but they are only useful for confirming past exposure for SARS-CoV2 and have no value in the early stages of the disease”.
“All the treatment strategies should be guided towards preventing the progress of the disease from its mild to moderate or moderate to severe and for that, we cannot wait on test reports. We have to go by clinical symptoms,” he explained.
Dr. Vijay Gurjar, an assistant professor in the Department of Geriatric Medicine at AIIMS here, said there have been several instances where the patients tested negative even after three or four RT-PCR tests despite clinical presentations and CT scans indicating atypical pneumonia which is highly suggestive of COVID-19.