Following the Opinions of False COVID-19 Results

Since the arrival of the dreaded C word, the rush to form a successful testing system was a priority around the globe. Drive through testing centres began popping up throughout March and the NHS Test & Trace was launched late May as an attempt to control the spread of the virus.

However, it wasn’t long before the news of false positives from standard PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) tests for COVID-19 began to spread across the UK.

Research efforts were put into place to focus on false-negatives and positives, which is also known as low and high test sensitivity. It has been reported that false-positive rates fall between 80% to 94% with false-negatives potentially following suit. Although false-negative test research has had priority due to the dangerous consequences of undetected cases in healthcare and social settings, the consequences of a false-positive bring severe economic and social issues within itself.

With the country going into its second national lockdown, it raises the question as to how accurate our statistics are, and how false results may have misled the current restrictions we are living under.

Our Text Mining Database has unearthed and identified thousands of Tweets containing opinions about the UK’s current COVID-19 testing difficulties. We have collated the most Retweeted Tweets posted to Twitter over the last week.

“500 British academics have written a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying that PCR tests producing high numbers of ‘false positive’ results and the UK Government must do more to put infection and death rates within the context of normal seasonal rates.”
– @drdavidsamadi

“NEW terrific study on rapid tests. The importance of this figure can NOT be overstated! Rapid tests caught 80% of PCR positives but all missed had very low viral loads. Thus, as expected it will successfully capture ppl most likely to be contagious. 1/”
– @michaelmina_lab

“Are our govts now defining a “pandemic” & “epidemic” solely based on deeply flawed PCR “cases” instead of deaths? If our govts fail to publicly provide free citizens with clear definitions, what defines end of their unscientific & unconstitutional policies causing horrific harms?”
– @dockaurG

“Facts: testing. 2 out of 3 PCR tests are retests. Only 1 in 3 PCR tests conducted are unique tests. Source: PHE. How many of these retests were of people who already tested positive. Treat as FOI @MattHancock @CMO_England @uksciencechief #covidfacts #abetterway”
– @Jon_statistics

To view the top 35 Tweets discussing PCR testing, head to our Text Mining Solutions Tweet Database.

The Tweets display disagreements towards PCR testing due to reports of false COVID-19 results. It raises the question, should our country be basing its lockdown decision on test results that may be inaccurate? Or do we accept that all medical testing will have a minor percentage of false results?

It is questionable whether the country will continue to use PCR testing for COVID-19. Liverpool will be the first UK city to conduct population-wide testing with a goal to defeat the virus by spring 2021. The testing method will use a combination of PCR and Antigen LFD (Lateral Flow Device) testing, presumably in recognition of failed PCR testing reports.

By cross-referencing social media opinions with online articles, a prediction can be made regarding the shortcomings of the current COVID-19 testing method.

Although the news informs us about changes we see in the world, social media insights paint a much larger picture of common opinions and attitudes. Text Mining Solutions can provide your company with structured content, based on thousands of social media posts, to help you make your next ground-breaking business decision.

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