Interpreting Confusing COVID-19 Test Results

Confused about your COVID-19 Test Results? 
I can help you figure this out.

 

At a time when everything else with this pandemic is so confusing, why do test results have to add to that problem? Hopefully my post below will give you some insight and help with interpreting your test result.

My friend who tested Positive for covid sent me her test results, which were a bit perplexing given how the message is delivered.

By the way, she's okay. She got through it, and is over it now, but not without being sick and miserable, having hallucinations, and losing her sense of smell and taste for 2 weeks. If you want to know more about her experience, and how she got it, check out this article.


There's 3 rows in the results:

Row 1: COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2 RNA, Qualitative NAAT) ----- OUT OF RANGE

Row 2: Current Result ----------DETECTED

Row 3: Desired Result ----------NOT DETECTED


See the image below:


Here's another screenshot from the diagnostic website site supposedly explaining everything...

 

I thought hmmm... what does COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2 RNA, Qualitative NAAT)-- "OUT OF RANGE" mean? 

Does it mean her test was faulty? 

Does it mean that they "detected" that she was "out of range" for having COVID-19, and therefore she didn't have it?

Does it mean that her test wasn't actually positive, but they just decided that she has COVID-19 based on her symptoms? (That wouldn't be cool... especially since she went through the trouble of waiting a week to get an appointment at a testing site, and then waited 2 more weeks just to get her results-- Yes, this happened in July, when there's supposedly a huge surplus in tests in the U.S. )

In the above image, the way the lab describes the results on the lab testing site isn't very helpful either--not to mention, their results fact sheet is a non-existent website page.

The way they describe the “DETECTED” Result makes them sound not very sure of themselves. It says, a detected result is considered a positive test result for COVID-19. Why can’t they just say it IS A POSITIVE TEST RESULT. That word, “considered” , throws everything off and makes it sound not legit. The test is legit, but it sounds very strange with the word choice. 

As I searched for an answer, I became so frustrated, because an answer to this simple, yet frequently asked question, was not readily or easily available. 

Considering the current circumstances of us being in a world-wide pandemic, I don't understand why there isn't a simple answer to this on the internet!!!

So, I guess I'll be the one to deliver this very simple answer since nobody else, including the major health authorities, such as the CDC, WHO, or the lab testing sites themselves, has taken the time to... 

For a normal everyday average Joe, non-attorney, or non-english major like me, the "out of range" result would mean that the testing wasn't in range for a Positive Covid-19 result. But after about a couple hours of research, I now realize, that is not the case! It's setup backwards just like how issues are on an election ballot-- very confusing!

For example: "Vote YES if you don't support a better education for your kids." Sorry, I had to throw that lil jab in there. lol (Please get your act together government)

Anyway, what "Out of Range" means is "Abnormal".

It's just like if you were a woman going to get a pap, and they say it's "Abnormal", which would mean that there's a potential problem that needs further investigation.

Basically, the range for a normal healthy person would be "within range", or, within a certain normal range. So if it's out of that normal healthy range, then the test is result is: "out of range". 


Bottom line:

COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2 RNA, Qualitative NAAT)"OUT OF RANGE", means you're sick.

Current Result - "DETECTED", means you have COVID-19.    


From what I gathered, different testing companies use different terms to define things, so another place (AgustaHealth.org) actually used the term "Abnormal" which is quite a bit more helpful than the term "Out of Range". If you're still confused, or want to dig a little deeper, there's a lab test website that explains how ranges work when it comes to lab testing. 

But at least, now you know, and you don't have to go through the frustration that I did. Hope this helps. 

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