False Positives

Schoolchildren Are Using Fruit Juice to Get ‘Positive’ Covid Test Results

Schoolchildren, inspired by videos on social media platforms, have taken to using fruit juice and fizzy drinks to get false positive Covid test results and skip school. A number of videos have been found, with titles including: “Fed up of going to school? Want to get a positive Covid test? Use orange juice.” The MailOnline has the story.

When droplets of orange juice or fizzy drinks like coca-cola are placed on a lateral flow test it can produce a positive result because the acidity of the drink destroys the antibody proteins in the test.

And although it does not work every time, viral videos on TikTok and Instagram have been encouraging children across the U.K. to try the trick to get out of going to school…

Gateacre School in Belle Vale, Liverpool, sent an email to parents yesterday warning them to watch over their children as they take lateral flow Covid tests. 

The school warned parents children around the country had discovered a trick for producing a false positive reading…

The email read: “Nationally, some school students have discovered that placing droplets of orange juice or other fruit juice on an LFD test gets a false ‘positive’ result. 

“In light of this, can you be extra vigilant when your child is doing their LFD tests. Also, remind them that a positive LFD test must be followed by a confirmatory PCR test.” …

A Government spokesman said it is “imperative” lateral flow tests are used in the correct way.

They added: “Around one in three people with Covid experience no symptoms and rapid testing with lateral flow tests helps us track down positive cases that would otherwise go under the radar.”

Worth reading in full.

Scientists Find Most PCR Test Results Do Not Indicate Infectious Virus, Question Test’s Status as “Gold Standard”

How often do we hear that the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test is the “gold standard” for detecting COVID-19 infection and thus for controlling and containing a COVID-19 epidemic? To question the accuracy of this test is supposedly part of the “misinformation” sceptics spread, which Ofcom, being guided by biased, Big Tech-funded, activist organisation Full Fact, aims to suppress.

In reality, serious questions about the proper use of PCR tests, particularly in mass screening programmes, have been asked since the technique was invented in 1985 and predate the Covid pandemic.

Since early 2020, there have been concerns that defining a “case” of COVID-19 merely in terms of a positive PCR test – with no consideration of clinical symptoms or the cycle threshold (Ct) of the test, which indicates the viral load of the patient – debases the concept of a clinical case and exaggerates the prevalence of the disease, fuelling alarm.

The issue was raised by Harvard epidemiologist Michael Mina and colleagues in the Lancet in February 2021, where they concluded that the cycle thresholds in reported test data were such that only a quarter to a half of positive PCR tests were likely to indicate the presence of infectious COVID-19. The rest, they argued, were detecting post-infectious viral particles, meaning relying on PCR testing was overstating the number of infectious cases of COVID-19 by a factor of between two and four.

This conclusion has now been underlined in a research letter in the Journal of Infection by seven scientists from the Universities of Münster and Essen. After analysing the test results from a large laboratory in Münster that amounted to 80% of all Covid PCR tests in the Münster region during March to November 2020, they found that “more than half of individuals with positive PCR test results are unlikely to have been infectious”. They thus conclude: “RT-PCR test positivity should not be taken as an accurate measure of infectious SARS-CoV-2 incidence.”

Why Can’t the Government be More Transparent About the Data Guiding its Decisions?

We’re publishing an original piece today by Dr Anthony Fryer, a Professor of Clinical Biochemistry at the School of Medicine at Keele University and member of HART. He is becoming more and more frustrated that the Government isn’t being more transparent about the data it’s basing its decisions on, its failure to contextualise the data it does release and why, in particular, it has failed to acknowledge the impact false positives have in inflating the number of cases as well as the figures about how many people have supposedly died from COVID-19. Here are the first three paragraphs:

When I look back over the last year or so of the pandemic, I can forgive the first couple of months. We were all finding our feet with a largely unknown entity. However, as a clinical scientist with over 30 years in NHS laboratories and as an academic researcher with over 200 peer-reviewed clinical research articles in scientific and medical journals (including over 130 involving use of the polymerase chain reaction [PCR]), I found my views increasingly divergent from those of the Government and its advisors. Those who know me will know that it takes a lot to get me annoyed, but I could not sit by and do nothing when I could see the immense damage being done to countless lives and businesses in the name of supposedly protecting us from SARS-CoV-2.

But let me say at the start; I am not one to deny the damage that COVID-19 can do. (And I deliberately use that term, rather than SARS-CoV-2. It’s the disease that causes the problems – most people manage the virus without much difficulty.) COVID-19 can be very nasty and my heart goes out to all those affected. But the way in which the Government handled the pandemic has, in my view, been shocking. It’s felt like it has focused blindly on the virus (and not very well at that either – just think about PPE in care homes for a start) and ignored the massive implications on every other level.

So I wrote. I wrote letters to the local paper, emailed the Chief Medical Officer, submitted evidence to a Parliamentary Inquiry, signed the Great Barrington Declaration, published scientific papers on the ineffectiveness of face coverings and on the non-Covid harms to people with diabetes, and wrote to my MP. Several times. I also joined UsforThem and the Health Advisory and Recovery Team (HART).

This is a brilliant piece by an eminent medical scientist who’s been red-pilled by the Government’s poor handling of the pandemic and is very much worth reading in full.

Pepsi Max Tests Positive for COVID-19

There follows a guest post by Nic Elliott, host of the Sounding Board podcast.

I decided to order some lateral flow tests now that anyone can request to be regularly tested.

My aim – a simple testing of household available items to see what the results would be. The results are crazy.

  • 3 gave a negative result.
  • 1 gave a void.
  • But 3 out of the 7 tests gave a positive result.

I make that a false positive rate of 43%, or 50% if you remove the voided result from the sample.

First I tested water – that came up negative. Then some tea left in my teapot, also negative.

Then I decided to test my own saliva (but not a swab stuck anyone official). That was negative, and still no voided results in sight.

I decided at this point to get serious and brought out the Lee & Perrins. This did give a void result, so it was time to bring out the big guns.

Pepsi Max (other vegetable extract-based drinks are available) – positive for SARS-CoV-2!

Then milk – a very faint line, but still classed as a positive according my official NHS leaflet.

And finally, mango chutney, the third positive COVID-19 test result.

Obviously, I am not going to report these staggering results, but maybe I’m looking for a conspiracy in the wrong area… Maybe the real bombshell is that COVID-19 is being spread through cola, cow’s milk and curry condiments.

Vast Majority of Positives in Schools Likely to be False

The “vast majority” of positives test results in schools are likely to be false, according to Jon Deeks, Professor of Biostatistics and head of the Test Evaluation Research Group at the University of Birmingham. The Telegraph has more.

Official data shows that the positive rate among secondary pupils is around 0.05 per cent, meaning there is a “high risk” that most rapid antigen tests carried out in secondary schools are false positives, according to Professor Jon Deeks.

Of the 3,867,007 lateral flow tests that were carried out on secondary pupils, just 1,805 were positive, according to the latest figures.

Health officials said that less than one in 1,000 results is a false positive overall. However, when the virus is on the wane, there is a higher likelihood of such results, as the number of true cases falls.

The positive case rate in schools equates to one in 2,142. At a rate of one in 1,000 false positives, from 3,867,007 tests you would expect 3,867 false positives.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: The Department for Education updated its official guidance today to say that all positive lateral flow tests taken in schools should be followed up by a confirmatory PCR test. Previously, this was only the case for tests taken by students at home.

Panorama “Breaks” Story on Cross-Contamination in Lighthouse Lab Covered by Lockdown Sceptics Last November

Better late than never I suppose. Tonight’s episode of PanoramaUndercover: Inside the Covid Testing Lab – reveals that staff at the Lighthouse Lab in Milton Keynes have been cutting corners and processing samples in a way that could lead to cross-contamination between test samples. Readers will recall that Lockdown Sceptics published an expose of the very same lab – “Heath and Safety Breaches at the Milton Keynes Lighthouse Lab” – by an ex-member of staff in November of last year. BBC News has more.

A BBC reporter working as a lab technician, filmed staff cutting corners and processing samples in a way that could cause contamination.

This means some people who had taken a test via NHS Test and Trace may have received no result or a wrong result.

The lab said it had followed all necessary rules and regulations.

Evidence at the lab captured on film shows:

* Checks to ensure samples could be identified, were rushed, meaning tests were sometimes discarded unnecessarily

* Some test samples “glooped” across an area where other samples had been placed, risking contamination

* Swabs used by people to take Covid tests were left in their tubes when processed, presenting a further contamination risk

* A quality control scientist telling the reporter that the quality of the results progressively got worse throughout the day

The findings have led experts to question the way the lab was operating.

The story on BBC News uses the phrase “potential contamination”, but, incredibly, does not use the phrase “false positives”, as if the contamination could be in both directions, with some positive becoming false negatives after being contaminated with material from negative test swabs. Obviously, that isn’t possible. The contamination is all in one direction – negative samples being contaminated with material from positive swabs, thereby becoming false positives.

What this Panorama story tells us is that the number of cases reported by PHE in England during the pandemic, which is partly based on the findings of Lighthouse Labs like the one in Milton Keynes, has been inflated thanks to cross-contamination in the labs.

The BBC story is worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Dr Martin Evison, a retired Professor of Forensic and Biological Anthropology and occasional contributor to Lockdown Sceptics, has been in touch to comment on the BBC News story.

I don’t suppose this ‘news’ from the BBC will come as news to anyone who has worked on the PCR analysis of trace samples. It is exactly what one would expect from rushed high volume mass testing with limited and secretive verification.

The BBC article still hasn’t mentioned a key issue in relation to contamination – that is, the use of negative ‘blank’ controls. These should be included at key points in RNA extraction and analysis to establish that purification and PCR steps, test plates, manual or automated liquid handling and so on are free of intrusive SARS-CoV-2 RNA or derived DNA contamination. Blanks should be run regularly to measure background contamination in the laboratory or production line.

I made a futile attempt to find out what controls were being used via an FOI request some months ago, but didn’t get very far.

Judging by the article, it seems a decision was made just to accept an unknown amount of contamination for the sake of throughput in a way that would be unacceptable in forensic work, for example.

It does leave one wondering how much SARS-CoV-2 infection is really circulating when the positive test levels drop to their minimum and whether contamination could also be contributing to mis-classification of non-covid fatalities.

It’s interesting that this seems to be the first really critical and detailed science-related article the BBC have posted on the Government response to COVID. Why only now?

More Than 200,000 Schoolchildren Currently Self-Isolating

With mass testing of schoolchildren happening every week – and the fact that those testing positive and their contacts are required to self-isolate – it is not surprising that more than 200,000 children were at home isolating at the end of last week, according to official estimates. MailOnline has the details.

More than nine in 10 pupils attended schools in England last week – but a growing number of children were self-isolating at home due to possible contact with COVID-19 cases, Government figures show.

Attendance in state schools last week was the highest it has been at any point during the pandemic, the Department for Education (DfE) analysis shows.

But the data suggests that 169,000 pupils were out of class and self-isolating on Thursday last week due to potential contact with a case of coronavirus.

The DfE estimates that approximately 2% of all state school pupils on roll up to 201,000 children did not attend school for COVID-19 related reasons on March 18th, up from 1% on March 11th.

This includes 127,000 pupils who have been self-isolating due to a potential contact with a COVID-19 case from inside the educational setting, and a further 42,000 pupils who were self-isolating due to a possible contact outside of school.

Meanwhile, 21,000 pupils were absent because they suspected they had COVID-19, 7,000 were off after testing positive for COVID-19, and 4,000 were absent as their school was closed due to Covid-19 reasons.

Secondary schools in England were given flexibility to stagger the return of their pupils between March 8th and 12th as these students were being asked to take voluntary COVID-19 tests on site as part of their return.

Overall, attendance in state schools was 91% on March 18th, up from 89% on March 11th when some secondary schools were still phasing in the return of pupils due to the logistics of mass testing.

Around 89% of secondary school pupils were in class on March 18th a similar proportion to the start of the second week of schools reopening in England.

But attendance in primary schools fell to 93% on Thursday last week from 95% the previous week, the figures show.

Perhaps most shocking is that 200,000+ were self-isolating last week even though just 0.067% of the millions of tests carried out came back positive. Given that this is below the estimated false positive rate of the lateral flow tests of 0.32% (the FPR can differ by age group and is thought to be lower in younger people), this suggests almost all of the positives are not real infections, or at least not contagious.

The Government’s refusal to allow confirmatory testing, either by PCR or by a second lateral flow test, prevents many of these false positives being identified and the needless harm of self-isolation being avoided.

If the Government is going to insist on continuing the pandemic-perpetuating practice of mass testing, the least it can do is allow the escape route of a second test for the victims of the imperfect tests.

The Mail report is worth reading in full.

Lancet Paper Flagging Up Risk of Reinfection is Garbage

We’re publishing an original piece today by Mike Hearn, the former Google software engineer who is the author of this site’s most read piece. (He used to contribute under the name Sue Denim, but has since come out.) It’s a review of a recent paper in the Lancet purporting to show that 20% of Danes infected in Denmark’s first wave became reinfected in the second wave. As Mike reveals, this conclusion was based on assuming the false positive rate of the PCR test is much lower than the researchers had any reason to assume. Here are the first three paragraphs:

A recent paper in the Lancet claims that one in five people might not get immunity from being infected with COVID. The study is invalid. Although these sorts of problems have been seen before, this is a good opportunity to quickly recall why COVID science is in such dire straits.

The research has a straightforward goal: follow a population of Danish people who tested positive in Denmark’s first wave, and re-test them during the second wave to see if they became infected a second time. Denmark has a large free PCR testing programme so there is plenty of data to analyse. Out of 11,068 who tested positive in the first wave, 72 also tested positive during the second wave. This fact is used to advocate for vaccination of people who’ve already had COVID.

The obvious problem with this strategy is that false positives can cause apparent reinfection even when no such thing has happened. The paper doesn’t mention this possibility until page 7, where the entire topic is dismissed in a single sentence: “Some misclassifications by PCR tests might have occurred; however, the test used is believed to be highly accurate, with a sensitivity of 97·1% and specificity of 99·98%.” My curiosity was piqued by this figure because, as I’ve written about previously, at least as of June last year nobody knew what the false positive rate of COVID PCR testing is. The problem is circular logic: COVID is defined as having a positive test, therefore by definition it has no false positives, even though we know this cannot be true.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: The New York Times reports on a new study showing that eight months after infection most people who have recovered from coronavirus still have enough immune cells to fend off the virus and prevent illness. A slow rate of decline in the short term suggests that these cells may persist in the body for a very, very long time to come.