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White Home crew reacts to FDA report on fast COVID check sensitivity: PCR, antigen exams ‘essential instruments’

Members of the White Home COVID-19 response crew reacted Wednesday to new steering from the Meals and Drug Administration (FDA) on the sensitivity of fast antigen exams, telling reporters that the exams’ usefulness amid the pandemic has not altered.

White Home chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci stated it was already recognized that an antigen check was not as delicate as a polymerase chain response (PCR) check. 


“What the FDA was saying, that once they have been wanting on the sensitivity with regard to omicron, in a number of the exams there seems to be considerably of a diminution – not a disappearance, however a diminution – of the sensitivity,” he stated. 

“The truth that the sensitivity is diminished considerably doesn’t obviate the significance of the, nonetheless, benefit and usefulness of those exams beneath totally different circumstances. That was the message of the FDA. They wished to ensure they have been completely clear in saying the sensitivity would possibly come down a bit, however they did emphasize [that] there nonetheless is a crucial use of those exams.”

White Home COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients stated the FDA launch was despatched out “to maintain the general public conscious of their ongoing work to guage the FDA-authorized check degree of sensitivity, particularly to omicron.”

“However, it is clear that they’re recommending their continued use,” he stated. “As has been recognized for some time and was said within the launch, PCR exams are extra delicate than incident exams. I wish to once more emphasize that each are essential instruments to cease the unfold of COVID-19.”

A sign informs people that the library is out of COVID-19 home test kits, a day after Miami-Dade county libraries handed out free test kits at dozens of library branches, Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021, in downtown Miami.

An indication informs folks that the library is out of COVID-19 residence check kits, a day after Miami-Dade county libraries handed out free check kits at dozens of library branches, Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021, in downtown Miami.
(AP Photograph/Rebecca Blackwell)

Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky added that serial antigen testing is vital in locations like faculties – echoing feedback she made in an earlier interview on Wednesday – and that serial makes use of permits individuals to “simply hand over slightly bit by way of sensitivity.”

“We do know that the antigen check could not carry out in addition to it had for prior variants – the alpha variant and the delta variant – but it surely’s nonetheless selecting up fairly a little bit of an infection,” she told NBC’s “Today” show.

Walensky additionally reiterated company steering stating that if a person receives a destructive consequence from an antigen check however experiences signs of COVID-19, they “ought to go forward and get that PCR check.”


The FDA stated that it had collaborated with the Nationwide Institutes of Well being’s RADx program to review the efficiency of antigen exams with affected person samples which have the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

“RADx not too long ago carried out preliminary research evaluating the efficiency of some antigen exams utilizing affected person samples containing stay virus, which represents the easiest way to guage true check efficiency within the short-term,” the FDA stated. “Early information means that antigen exams do detect the omicron variant however could have diminished sensitivity.”

Previous to finishing the stay virus exams, RADx performed preliminary laboratory exams utilizing heat-inactivated samples for a number of the at present out there antigen exams, which have been in a position to detect omicron and carry out equally when detecting different variants. 

A member of the Salt Lake County Health Department COVID-19 testing staff performs a COVID-19 test outside the Salt Lake County Health Department, Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021, in Salt Lake City.

A member of the Salt Lake County Well being Division COVID-19 testing workers performs a COVID-19 check outdoors the Salt Lake County Well being Division, Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021, in Salt Lake Metropolis.
(AP Photograph/Rick Bowmer)

Warmth-inactivated samples are affected person samples with omicron which were heat-treated in order that the virus is now not stay and the FDA says they’re the most suitable choice when affected person samples with a stay virus usually are not out there.

The FDA and RADx will proceed to additional consider the efficiency of antigen exams utilizing samples with stay virus, and famous within the assertion that laboratory information are “not a substitute for medical research evaluations utilizing affected person samples with stay virus.”


“The FDA continues to authorize the usage of these exams as directed within the licensed labeling and people ought to proceed to make use of them in accordance with the directions included with the exams. Antigen exams are usually much less delicate and fewer more likely to choose up very early infections in comparison with molecular exams,” the FDA wrote. 

“In following the FDA’s long-standing fast check suggestions, if an individual exams destructive with an antigen check however is suspected of getting COVID-19, comparable to experiencing signs or have a excessive probability of an infection as a consequence of publicity, follow-up molecular testing is vital for figuring out a COVID-19 an infection. If an individual exams constructive with an antigen check, they need to self-isolate and search follow-up care with a well being care supplier to find out the subsequent steps.”


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