The Journal of Infection has published a new study that confirms what many have already come to conclude: Mass testing of asymptomatic members of the general population was unnecessary and only served to exaggerate the number of COVID “cases.”
Throughout medical history, including in prior pandemics, the term “cases” has generally referred to patients demonstrating symptoms from infections. The media’s language about “cases” was ‘updated’ to the more commonly used term “infections” after President Biden took office. Readers can draw their own conclusions.
The distinction is important because the belief that millions of COVID “cases” of asymptomatic people throughout the general population were deemed to be an existential threat to the health and welfare of the American public. Indeed, the scientific establishment and the echoing mainstream media arguing that ‘asymptomatic spread’ was a serious factor in the spread of COVID appeared to justify mass testing for the virus.
That belief has proven to be false. The Journal of Infection uses direct language to explain its technical findings. The article is called, “The performance of the SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR test as a tool for detecting SARS-CoV-2 infection in the population.” It is based on a population of 162,457 tested individuals in Germany.
“Of 162,457 tested individuals, 4,164 (2.6%) had a positive RT-PCR test. The positive rate was lower among children aged 0-9 years (2.2%) and among adults aged 70 or more (1.6%), compared to the intermediate group aged 10-69 years (2.8%). The positive rate was strongly linked to the national SARS-CoV-2 test strategy. During the first and third phase of national testing, predominantly symptomatic people were tested. During these phases, the positive rates were higher than during the intermittent second phase corresponding to the summer season, when predominantly asymptomatic individuals were tested. The positive rate during the third phase was considerably higher than during the first phase.”
The following section explains the importance of the Ct values for determining if there has been an ‘infection.’ The higher the number, the lower the viral load.
“During the peak of testing asymptomatic individuals, only 0.4% tested positive with a mean Ct value of 28.8. Higher mean Ct values were observed among children aged 0-9 years (28.6) and adults above 70 years (27.0). Only 40.6% of positive tests showed Ct values below the threshold of 25, indicating a likelihood of the person being infectious (Table 1). In the small group of individuals for whom clinical information was available, symptomatic subjects had a markedly lower mean Ct value of 25.5 compared to asymptomatic subjects, who showed a mean Ct value of 29.6 (Figure 1).”
The review of the test results showed that most of them had a Ct value higher than 25, which indicated a “low viral load.”
“Most positive tests in our sample showed Ct values of 25 or higher, indicating a low viral load. Ct values were on average lower in symptomatic than in asymptomatic individuals. Our results are similar to the observations made in the ONS Survey with consistently low positive rates (0.06%) during the summer months, followed by a rise to more than 1% by the end of October 2020. A substantial proportion (45%-68%) of test positive individuals in the UK did not report symptoms at the time of their positive PCR test.”
Now for the key passage that contain the conclusions and the recommendation.
“In light of our findings that more than half of individuals with positive PCR test results are unlikely to have been infectious, RT-PCR test positivity should not be taken as an accurate measure of infectious SARS-CoV-2 incidence. Our results confirm the findings of others that the routine use of “positive” RT-PCR test results as the gold standard for assessing and controlling infectiousness fails to reflect the fact “that 50-75% of the time an individual is PCR positive, they are likely to be post-infectious.”
This is very plain language that is not difficult to understand. The obvious implications are underscored below.
Asymptomatic individuals with positive RT-PCR test results have higher Ct values and a lower probability of being infectious than symptomatic individuals with positive results. Although Ct values have been shown to be inversely associated with viral load and infectivity, there is no international standardization across laboratories, rendering problematic the interpretation of RT-PCR tests when used as a tool for mass screening.
Now, for the U.S. and international context of these findings. In January, the WHO issued a memorandum that errors processing PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests could lead to people wrongly being labeled infected. It then provided new guidance that the PCR tests be more carefully interpreted:
WHO guidance Diagnostic testing for SARS-CoV-2 states that careful interpretation of weak positive results is needed (1). The cycle threshold (Ct) needed to detect virus is inversely proportional to the patient’s viral load. Where test results do not correspond with the clinical presentation, a new specimen should be taken and retested using the same or different NAT technology.
It furthermore warned about a PCR test potentially getting a “false positive”:
WHO reminds IVD users that disease prevalence alters the predictive value of test results; as disease prevalence decreases, the risk of false positive increases (2). This means that the probability that a person who has a positive result (SARS-CoV-2 detected) is truly infected with SARS-CoV-2 decreases as prevalence decreases, irrespective of the claimed specificity.
The reports about PCR test “cycle thresholds” being too high was nothing new. If the cycle thresholds are too high, it suggests the viral load of the patient is too low to truly qualify as a “case.” As reported by the Telegraph:
Prof Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, said eight days after contracting Covid-19, the chances the infected person will pass the virus on “goes down to zero” if they have no symptoms.
However, he said fragments of the virus can still remain in the body for many weeks afterwards – with some studies showing intermittent shedding up to 70 days later – leading to a positive test and skewing the real picture of how many people are at risk of passing on the virus.
The BBC gave further context:
Prof Carl Heneghan, one of the study’s authors, said instead of giving a “yes/no” result based on whether any virus is detected, tests should have a cut-off point so that very small amounts of virus do not trigger a positive result.
He believes the detection of traces of old virus could partly explain why the number of cases is rising while hospital admissions remain stable.
The subsequent data from the COVID-19 tracking project coinciding with the week the WHO guidance was released on January 13th, showed the weekly “cases” were down over 20% from the previous week, despite the tests going up 1%.
The COVID-19 “cases” and mortality rate would actually peak just after Biden’s election certification. The real “case” that the American people have is that mass testing leading up to the Biden administration was a ‘scam.’