Study casts doubt on effectiveness of Covid testing at schools — Analysis

Because of the low antigen test performance, it is hard to determine how widespread Omicron has spread within schools.

The Rapid Covid-19 test has shown low effectiveness in the detection of HIV in children according to a group of British and German researchers.

Scientists from the University of Manchester and Germany’s Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care analyzed 17 studies published between January 2020 and May 2021, involving 6,355 children who used eight antigen tests from six different brands. 

According to the BMJ medical journal report, the tests that detect coronavirus in children using lateral flow antigens do not conform to minimum standards as set out by US and UK regulators.

The scientists concluded that “The overall pediatric population’s diagnostic specificity was 64.2%” (and 71.8% among children with symptoms) with no test having fully satisfied its minimum performance requirements.

Study warns of new post-Covid outcome for children

The difference in test performance between symptomatic and asymptomatic child patients shows “Specificity and sensitivity are not characteristics of test results.,” the researchers said. They also noted that in almost all the studies testing was conducted by trained staff, and that sample collection by untrained people or self-testing would likely make the tests’ performance even worse.

Invariably, the low efficacy of the lateral flow test raises questions regarding the logic of school mass testing. “Low diagnostic sensitivity could impact on the purposeful implementation of broad testing programs.,” the report reads.

Omicron has spread rapidly among schoolchildren after winter vacation break, particularly in countries that do not allow vaccination for younger children like the UK. Meanwhile, according to a recent study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children aged 5–11 are “At the very least,” to be infected with Covid as adults, though in most cases they have much milder symptoms.

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