HEALTH

Utah officials pause rapid antigen tests for COVID-19, cite discrepancy

Feb 7, 2022, 7:39 AM | Updated: 11:34 am
Covid tests...
Despite a lower number of coronavirus cases reported over the holiday weekend, health officials say nearly 30% of tests came back positive. (PHOTO: Utah Department of Health building in Salt Lake City, Paul Nelson KSL Newsradio)
(PHOTO: Utah Department of Health building in Salt Lake City, Paul Nelson KSL Newsradio)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Department of Health has paused the use of rapid antigen COVID-19 tests after many of them came back with false-negative results.

The decision by UDOH officials is based on the test results of 18,000 Utahns. The health department found that out of every 100 people who tested positive via a PCR (nasal) test, 38 tested positive on the rapid test.

Related: Biden administration to boost at-home rapid testing with $1 billion investment

State epidemiologist Dr. Leisha Nolen said that finding was concerning. 

“We certainly want to evaluate why this is happening, and we’d prefer to do this pause than provide inaccurate information.

Dr. Nolen said PCR tests are the “gold standard” of tests since they have higher sensitivity than rapid antigen tests.

Nolden told KSL television that they’ve reached out to partners around the country to see if others are having similar issues. They’ve also let health departments in other states know of the problems Utah is experiencing.

Related: Utah health officials warn Utahns to expect long COVID-19 testing lines

Utah health officials say they’ll work with the company that provides the tests, as well as the FDA, to find out if there is something specific to the rapid test they’ve been using that needs to change. They’ll also confirm whether they are administering the rapid tests in a manner inconsistent with standard practices.


How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus (updated Jan. 2022)

The novel coronavirus COVID-19 spreads from person to person, similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Get vaccinated. If you are vaccinated, get your booster shot.
  • Wear a mask. Here are the current CDC recommendations (as of Jan. 12, 2022):
    • People aged 2 years and older who are not vaccinated should wear a face covering when indoors.
    • When outdoors, masks are generally not needed unless you are in a crowded setting.
    • Even if they are vaccinated, people with weakened immune systems may still be at risk and should wear a mask indoors.
    • Masks should be worn indoors in public in high transmission areas.
    • Masks that cover your nose and mouth are required to be worn on planes, busses, trains, and other public transportation when traveling into, within, or out of the United States.
  • Stay six feet away from others (social distancing) especially if you are at high risk.
  • Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.
  • Testing. There are several types of tests for you to use if you suspect you are sick. These include viral and antibody tests, conducted by others or by you in your home (self-tests). 
    • If you test positive, you should isolate. The CDC now recommends a five-day isolation period, followed by five days of mask-wearing when around others.

Local resources

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States

 

 

 

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Utah officials pause rapid antigen tests for COVID-19, cite discrepancy