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Local health experts weigh in on COVID-19 test with some false positive results

The FDA has issued a warning about the BD Max System.
Published: Jul. 8, 2020 at 11:03 PM CDT
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BRAZOS COUNTY, Texas (KBTX) - This week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned laboratories and health care providers that a common COVID-19 test is providing false-positive results.

In a study conducted by the test’s manufacturer, the BD Max System has about a 3% chance of giving a false-positive result.

Brazos County Alternate Health Authority Dr. Seth Sullivan says he’s not aware of anyone in Brazos County that administers this test. He says even if they did, it’s not something to fear.

“We know these tests aren’t perfect and there’s no test that’s perfect. This is what being a clinician is. It’s trying to determine the test in the right context. So as clinicians, we need to maintain that suspicion as we’re interpreting those tests for patients,” said Dr. Sullivan.

Jason McKnight, a clinical assistant professor with the Texas A&M School of Medicine says with these types of tests, there’s a higher likelihood of getting a false-positive result if you aren’t experiencing symptoms.

“If they’re in an area where there are not many infections and they get tested without having any symptoms of COVID-19, then a positive result is more likely to be a false positive versus if that person were having fever, or having a respiratory complaint and testing positive,” said McKnight.

However, if you do test positive, “It’s still a good idea to socially isolate and distance yourself from the public because you don’t know if in the next day or two you may actually start having symptoms, in which that case would have been a true positive test,” said McKnight.

The FDA recommends clinical laboratory staff and health care providers to consider any positive result presumptive from this test and to consider confirming results with an alternate authorized test. According to the FDA’s website, they’re working with Becton, Dickinson, and Company (BD) to resolve this issue.

Copyright 2020 KBTX. All rights reserved.

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