University Of Tokyo Finds Simple Coronavirus Antibody Test Gives Many False Positives

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Roughly 90% of the people who received positive results with simple coronavirus antibody test kits tested negative when a more detailed test utilizing large equipment was administered, says a team led by the University of Tokyo’s Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology on Sunday.

While simplified kits are being increasingly introduced in clinics across the country, the research team pointed out the challenges in accurately assessing actual infection status using them.

The research team, with cooperation from Hirata Central Hospital in Fukushima Prefecture, conducted a survey in May. Among the 680 medical and nursing care workers at the hospital who were tested using a simplified kit called immunochromatography, 58 tested positive.

Of the people who tested positive, 52 ― or about 90% ― were found to be negative on further tests. Those who tested negative on the kit also tested negative with the advanced testing method.

“While the kit helps quickly identify those who may have been infected, the diagnosis requires a comprehensive judgment with more information, including PCR test results and a diagnosis of symptoms through a detailed examination,” said Tatsuhiko Kodama, professor emeritus at the center. The kits may cause a problem of precision if used in epidemiological studies.

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