I just had my second COVID-19 test. This was part of a study of health care workers at my hospital to see how many front line providers might be infected. It comes a little late as infections are way down here in Connecticut. Our positive testing rate (not infection rate) is less than 1% and has been for some time. Rates under 5% are considered good.
The nasal swab test is very unpleasant, but it is also fairly quick, or so I thought based on my first test early in June. In that case, the swab was out of my left nostril and into and out of my right nostril before I could even complain. Not so yesterday.
The tester went medieval on my nostrils, or should I say brain, because that swab goes feet deep it seems. He didn’t just go in. He went way in and then probed around, swishing and swirling and making little circles like he was obsessive compulsive brushing his teeth. I normally take most tests quite well and never flinch. He had to tell me to stop moving my head. I wanted to say, I’m not the one moving my head. Your nasal swab in pounding me like it has a heavyweight boxing glove on the end.
Anyway, poor me.
I got the results back and I am once again negative, or according to the results, no COVID-19 detected.
My takeaway from this, after having experienced two different swabbers, I can see how technique could affect the outcome. In the first case, the swabber might have missed some COVID sleeping comfortably up in the distance recesses of my nostrils untouched by the probing swab. The second swabber might have found the COVID, but crushed the entire colony to death with his violent pounding.
As it is the false negative rate for the nasal swabs has been estimated at 20-30%.
Tests may miss more than 1 in 5 COVID-19 cases
How Accurate Are COVID-19 Tests? Many Factors Can Affect Sensitivity, Specificity of Test Results
Someday, this will all be over. I hope.