Rapid testing could lead to “false sense of security”
EyeWitness News CoronavirusApril 9, 2020April 9, 2020 at 9:50 am Sloan Smith
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Health Minister Dr Duane Sands yesterday tempered expectations over the efficacy of rapid testing, noting that results are not always accurate, and could lead to a “false sense of security”. A total of 393 people had been tested as of Wednesday amid widespread calls for officials to ramp up efforts. To date, there have been 40 confirmed cases of the virus. Seven people have died, with their ages ranging from 51 to 90. Providing an update yesterday, Sands maintained there are “no shortage of test kits” in the country. “We have enough test kits to exceed the demand for the foreseeable future and we have additional molecular test kits coming into the country,” he continued. He said the government has rapid tests readily available, but is still validating the widespread use of antibody testing. The health minister explained that unlike the molecular test kits, the rapid kits do not always give accurate or consistent results. “We think they are best used in general population surveillance, not to diagnose a person as being COVID positive or negative,” he explained. Sands said that there can be a situation when one test is negative, and another test is positive, but the person may have already recovered. “The result of the antibody test, may not be clinically useful,” he added. “This the reason why, despite the tremendous pressure, despite the tremendous demand from the public to start using antibody tests, that we want to be sure, that the information that we get from antibody test are reliable and accurate and that they do not lead to a false sense of security”. The Progressive Liberal Party has continuously made calls for the increase in testing throughout the country. Since the start of the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO has emphasized the critical importance of testing. The Bahamas has had the capacity to test in country for less than a month. Prior to that, COVID-19 tests would have to be sent Centers for Disease Control in the United States or CARFA in Trinidad.