Elon Musk took to Twitter Thursday night to mention that he has received mixed results after being tested for COVID-19 and is currently experiencing symptoms of a standard cold. Musk says he was tested fourfold employing a rapid antigen test: two tests came back positive and two came back negative. He’s also awaiting the results from two PCR tests but the results won’t be known for twenty-four hours.
Antigen tests work by detecting alittle protein on the surface of the coronavirus, whereas the more accurate PCR tests search for the virus itself. Antigen tests are often conducted quickly as they don’t require a lab, and are often administered in hotspots like college campuses or elderly care facilities. Some states don’t even bother reporting the results of antigen tests in their overall case numbers, consistent with a survey published in September by Kaiser Health News (KHN).
Something extremely bogus goes on. Was tested for covid fourfold today. Two tests came back negative, two came back positive. Same machine, same test, same nurse. Rapid antigen test from BD.
However, consistent with the FDA, “positive results from antigen tests are highly accurate, but there’s a better chance of false negatives.” That’s why PCR tests are ordered to stop the possible spread of the virus thanks to a false negative. One such antigen test from Quidel can detect the coronavirus 85 percent of the time. Musk says his antigen test came from BD.
Musk has been spreading doubt, confusion, and sometimes outright misinformation about the coronavirus. He’s accused doctors of inflating case numbers for financial reasons, promoted a widely discredited paper on the advantages of chloroquine, called shelter-in-place orders “fascist,” and dismissed panic related to the pandemic as “dumb.” In March he predicated “close to zero new cases” by the top of April.
The US is currently seeing another spike in COVID-19 cases. Just every week after reporting 100,000 cases during a single day, public health officials recorded a record 160,000 new cases on Thursday, consistent with the ny Times. Hospitalizations for COVID-19 also set a record of 67,096 on an equivalent day, consistent with the Covid Tracking Project, with deaths rising to quite 1,000 on the average every day .