Some patients are testing negative for the coronavirus even though they have it, and a D.C. doctor says it’s unavoidable but exceedingly rare.
“We’ve done hundreds of tests now, and we’ve seen a couple of negatives that when retested were positive,” said Dr. Gary Simon, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at The George Washington University’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
And while they do occur, “statistically, you’ll always see a false negative in any type of population. It’s impossible to say it’s 100%.”
As a result, someone who comes in with classic symptoms of the coronavirus but tests negative will be tested again.
Simon said the current thinking is that the nasal swab test could be more reliable than the oral test. But he stressed there’s not much data to back that up.
“It’s believed — without really good evidence — that nasopharyngeal testing is a little better than oropharyngeal testing,” Simon said.
- Latest coronavirus test results in DC, Maryland and Virginia
- Coronavirus FAQ: What you need to know
- Coronavirus testing: For a DC man, an agonizing wait and a possible mistake