The “false positive catastrophe” that results from widespread Covid-19 testing

How does the math work?

Here are the details on why testing asymptomatics in the Covid-19 pandemic is such a bad idea: even a test with a very high 99% accuracy rate used to screen asymptomatic populations, with a low background rate of actual infection, will yield high levels of false positives. And the background rate of actual infection, even during “spikes,” has always been relatively low. For example, Baden et al., 2020, found a 0.6% background positive test result in the 30,420 clinical trial participants for the Moderna virus, so assuming 1%, as I do in the results in Figure 1, is a high figure.

Figure 1. False positives are 50% (1/2) even with a 99% sensitivity test if the active infection level in the population is at 1%.
Figure 2. Using Lee 2020 findings regarding CDC’s PCR test inaccuracies with testing of asymptomatic people in a population with active Covid-19 infection level of 1%.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Tam Hunt

Tam Hunt


Public policy, green energy, climate change, technology, law, philosophy, biology, evolution, physics, cosmology, foreign policy, futurism, spirituality