As more and more people are getting vaccinated, the sensitivity of the COVID-19 test is raising questions among health and medical experts on whether results need to be looked at more crucially when a vaccinated individual without symptoms tests positive for the virus.
According to The Mercury News report, for much of this global health crisis, the primary COVID-19 test's keen sensitivity "has been a blessing," identifying even small amounts of the virus that can spread silently among humans who might not feel ill.
High school student Kevin Miller got caught in the pandemic and it cost him some of the most valuable moments of his senior year in high school.
According to the report, Miller had jumped at the opportunity of being vaccinated and received his final dose in late February. Miller thought he could go back to class on campus and be able to play basketball on the varsity team as soon as possible minus all the worries about COVID-19.
However, early last month, almost 10 weeks after his last dose, what appeared impossible happened. A COVID-19 test prior to his games came out with a positive result.
Vaccinated, Yet Infected
The 18-year-old youth said he had no reason to believe he got infected with the virus, adding he never felt ill, never got one more positive test and no one else on his team tested positive for COVID-19.
Despite three succeeding negative tests, local health and school officials said they were obligated to impose safety protocols, necessitating Miller, as well as dozens of his exposed team members and classmates, to isolate for one week, missing face-to-face classes and in-person games. The quarantine almost kept them from attending the senior prom.
Health officials claimed the ordeal should not have been essential. Vaccinated people who don't feel ill might still stimulate a positive test for the virus as their body combats the infection, although they are not at risk of infecting others, according to Dr. Monica Gandhi of the University of California who has investigated virus safety in schools.
Gandhi thinks that at this point there is a need to change the definition of what an infection is. The question is likely to come up more frequently as more people are vaccinated and businesses and schools completely reopen with an eye toward stopping the outbreak.
Vaccinated People Without Symptoms Testing Positive
Even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends COVID-19 testing for vaccinated people without symptoms, some events like sports competitions may require athletes to be screened for the virus.
This was not the first time athletes who were fully vaccinated tested positive for the virus without experiencing any symptoms and were forced to isolate and be in quarantine.
In May, CBS Sports reported, nine members of the New York Yankees baseball team who had been fully vaccinated tested positive for COVID-19.
Only two members reported mild symptoms while baseball star Gleybel Torres and the rest of the team were found asymptomatic. However, they were all forced to quarantine. Major League Baseball necessitates two negative COVID-19 tests for vaccinated individuals to exit a 10-day quarantine early.
The CDC is considering a test for vaccinated individuals at least two weeks after the final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to determine the presence of a "breakthrough infection".
A recent CDC study considers a breakthrough infection rare. Only 0.01 percent of fully vaccinated people in the US this year tested positive after vaccination, with 27 percent of them exhibiting no symptoms.
COVID-19 Test Accuracy
More than one year into the pandemic, there remains the question of the accuracy of the COVID-19 test. The PCR or polymerase chain reaction tests commonly used to verify COVID-19 are considered accurate -- to a point.
If a COVID infection has not progressed far when an individual got swabbed, it might not stimulate a positive result. Thus, health officials caution that a negative test does not prove a person is COVID-19-free.
They also consider false positives very unlikely. Unless a specimen is contaminated, some virus needs to be present for a false positive to appear.
Related report is shown on WXYZ-TV Detroit's YouTube video below:
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