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Additional evidence supports the use of PCR-based tests over rapid tests in detecting COVID-19

Scientists understand how mutations of the Omicron variant contribute to its' transmissibility and pathogenicity. However, several questions have arisen regarding COVID-19 tests' ability to identify infections and the difficulty in determining if someone is contagious to others or not.

Since rapid antigenic tests are fast and relatively simple to perform, they have been widely used to monitor population-wide infection rates and help people decide on traveling, social gatherings, sending children to school, etc. But the emergence of the Omicron variant towards the end of 2021 changed testing dynamics. Studies show that such tests – the rapid antigenic tests – are lagging by several days in detecting Omicron, with many infected people continuing to test negative despite receiving positive results from PCR-based tests. Moreover, some participants tested negative with the rapid tests, then inadvertently transmitted the virus to others.

Although the data is still preliminary, evidence emerges that PCR-based tests are superior in detecting COVID-19 infections, even those caused by the Omicron. Scientists continue to urge everyone to seek PCR-based tests for confirmation whenever possible.

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Read the full article from The Scientist here.

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