The World Health Organization (W.H.O.), on the day President Joe Biden took office, released new coronavirus testing guidelines for laboratories worldwide that may result in fewer infections reported by health officials.
On Inauguration Day, the W.H.O. issued the new directives for the commonly used PCR testing in the form of a “medical product alert,” indicating that a patient who comes out positive may need to take a second test and present symptoms to be considered infected.
The next day, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the U.S. government, revealed that his new boss, Biden, had signed a letter to rejoin the organization.
In July 2020, Trump withdrew from the W.H.O. for helping China hide the severity of the coronavirus that originated within its borders during the disease’s early stages, allowing it to spread to the world.
Independent assessments by media outlets and a recently released report commissioned by the W.H.O. itself have confirmed Trump’s reasons for pulling out of the international body.
Some individuals discussed the new guidelines on Twitter:
PCR positive is no longer = Covid. You are not Covid now unless you get a second test to confirm it, and are presenting clinical symptoms. We shall see what the net impact of this indeed is.
Released 20/21 Jan 2020https://t.co/giAYWjQFDB pic.twitter.com/axKemwS2Sx
— Ethical Skeptic ☀ (@EthicalSkeptic) January 20, 2021
On Tuesday, the W.H.O advised laboratories that a single PCR test, considered the “gold standard” by health officials, is no longer enough, noting that an asymptomatic person who tests positive may need a second test for confirmation.
“Where test results do not correspond with the clinical presentation, a new specimen should be taken and retested using the same or different [PCR test],” W.H.O. officials wrote. W.H.O. officials now say that the PCR tests that have been used across the U.S. and elsewhere to detect coronavirus infections are a mere “aid for diagnosis,” adding:
Therefore, health care providers must consider any result in combination with timing of sampling, specimen type, assay specifics, clinical observations, patient history, confirmed status of any contacts, and epidemiological information.
The W.H.O. did not say why it waited over a year after health officials first detected the virus in China to release the testing guidelines, which suggest that some laboratories have been misdiagnosing some infections.
“Up until COVID hit in 2020, neither WHO nor the CDC had ever considered a single positive PCR test sufficient for diagnosing viral infection,” Michael Thau from Red State noted.
Turns out during all 4 epidemics prior to COVID-19 since 2000, CDC & WHO were concerned about the high false-positive rates for PCR tests & issued guidelines to try and minimize them. But for C19, both somehow forgot all about PCR false-positive rates.https://t.co/XC4w46G62V pic.twitter.com/xfxXedyt9j
— Michael Thau (@MichaelThau) August 30, 2020
W.H.O. officials now explain:
[D]isease prevalence alters the predictive value of test results; as disease prevalence decreases, the risk of false positive increases. …. This means that the probability that a person who has a positive result (SARS-CoV-2 detected) is truly infected with SARS-CoV-2 decreases as prevalence decreases, irrespective of the claimed specificity.
SARS-CoV-2 is the official name of the coronavirus.
An assessment carried out by an independent international panel established by the W.H.O. determined this month that both China and the U.N. entity fumbled their response to the virus during the early stages of the outbreak, as Trump suspected.
Before Trump pulled out of the W.H.O., the United States was the agency’s top contributor but had less clout than China, which provided the U.N. with substantially less funding.