In early 2020, a new virus began generating headlines all over the world because of the unprecedented speed of its transmission. Its origins have been traced to a food market in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. From there, it’s reached countries as distant as the United States and the Philippines.
The virus (officially named SARS-CoV-2) has been responsible for over 100 million infections globally, causing around 2.5 million deaths. The United States is the country most affected. The disease caused by contracting SARS-CoV-2 is called COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019. People are extremely sceptical of their negative test results for COVID-19, especially when they have been experiencing mild to severe symptoms associated with the deadly virus. While RT-PCR test are considered to be the gold standard for testing, recent reports suggest a ‘false negative’ is very much possible.
Could you get a ‘false negative’ test even if you have COVID symptoms?
In light of the recent surge in the coronavirus cases, people are extremely sceptical of their negative test results for COVID-19, especially when they have been experiencing mild to severe symptoms associated with the deadly virus. While RT-PCR test are considered to be the gold standard for testing, recent reports suggest a ‘false negative’ is very much possible.
How accurate are COVID tests?
Initially, RT PCR tests for detecting COVID-19 were considered to be extremely accurate with some exceptions. However, with the onset of the second coronavirus wave, there have been many reports suggesting that ‘false negatives’ are very prevalent amongst people experiencing some of the most common symptoms of COVID-19. That said, there can be many reasons behind why you test negative.
Reasons behind a ‘false negative’ even if you have COVID symptoms
While the current wave of COVID-19 is driven by a cocktail of mutated variants, experts believe that the standard RT PCR test is unable to identify the new mutations, hence reflecting a negative test result.
Apart from that, it may also happen that the viral load in your body is too low, which makes it difficult to locate the infection and the reports may come back as negative. Additionally, if your sample is not collected appropriately or the swab stick is not inserted accurately, this may also trigger a false negative result.
Symptoms to watch out for even if you test negative
During the current crisis, vigilance and awareness is the key to containing the spread of the virus and also minimizing the visits to the hospital. In case you get a ‘false negative’ test result, but continue experiencing different ailments, isolate yourself and monitor your symptoms. That said, here are some sure shot signs of COVID-19 that you must watch out for, even if you test negative.
Doctors and scientists are learning new things about this virus every day. So far, we know that COVID-19 may not cause any symptoms for some people. You may carry the virus for 2 days or up to 2 weeks before you develop symptoms.
Some common symptoms that have been specifically linked to COVID-19 include:
- Shortness of breath
- A cough that gets more severe over time
Less common symptoms include:
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Sore throat
- Muscle aches and pains
- Loss of taste or smell
- A stuffy or runny nose
- Gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
- Discoloration of fingers or toes
- Pink eye
What to do if you test negative but have COVID symptoms?
First and foremost, it is important that you isolate yourself and avoid coming in contact with others. Continue monitoring symptoms and keep a tab of your blood oxygen levels with the help of a pulse oximeter. Next, you should repeat your RT PCR tests 2-3 days later. If symptoms persist, get a CT scan, only at the advice of your doctor or a specialist.