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“Don’t try this at home,” Thai FDA warns against self-diagnosis using Covid-19 rapid test

Caitlin Ashworth

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PHOTO: Nation Thailand

With Covid-19 rapid test kits now available online, the Thai Food and Drug Administration is warning the public not to use the tests at home, unless they are a medical professional.

Now that Thailand is experiencing a new wave of infections, with active cases exceeding 4,000, far higher than the first wave’s peak of 1,451 active cases in April, FDA secretary general Surachoke Tangwiwat says many people are buying rapid test kits online and performing the tests themselves.

Surachoke says rapid tests detect a change in a person’s immunity level, not the actual virus. He says doctors and experienced health technicians need to analyse the result to make sure there isn’t a misdiagnosis.

“In some cases, test-takers found the results to be negative, but in fact they had just contracted the virus and it could spread to others if they do not isolate themselves.”

He adds that the Ministry of Public Health announced that Covid-19 rapid test kits are only allowed to be sold to hospitals, clinics or licensed medical professionals and all rapid test kit sales must be reported to the FDA.

People who came in close contact with a Covid-19 patient or travelled to areas classified as a “red zone” and at a high risk for Covid-19 and then started experiencing flu-like symptoms, should be tested for the virus at a hospital. Common Covid-19 symptoms are fever, loss of taste, cough, sore throat and muscle ache.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Issan John

    Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 11:18 am

    That’s the two stage danger with all these “rapid” tests – none have been found to be accurate, with the most widely used giving over half the positives detected by PCR tests as negatives, and they give those testing negative false confidence so they’re likely to take less precautions and so spread the virus quicker if contagious.

    They should be banned, and sites selling them closed.

  2. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 1:08 pm

    However the rapid tests if positive do identify the persons who are highly contagious, whereas the PCR test will identify those that are very lightly infected and not highly contagious.
    Therefore, a rapid test is good, and should be used just to identify those that are highly contagious.
    In this way the rapid test is useful.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 2:40 pm

      Not correct, Toby A.

      Not even partly correct.

      The rapid tests DON’T always identify “those who are highly contagious” except under lab conditions and by a trained professional, and even then not in as many cases as PCR tests.

      Read the results of the definitive study in the UK, with a 51% failure rate, which is why this test, when self-administered, was abandoned after the trials in Liverpool and Manchester.

      … and even if you were correct, which the UK trials have established beyond any doubt you’re NOT, that still wouldn’t be “good” or make the test “useful” as you’d still have a lot of people walking round thinking they were negative when they were actually contagious so taking less precautions and making the situation worse – AS THE EXPERTS WHO CONDUCTED THE TRIAL IN THE UK CONCLUDED.

      I don’t mind you contradicting me for the sake of it, but at least do other people the courtesy of checking things first before coming out with this crap, since while it sounds melodramatic your pettiness could, literally, cost someone their life.

    • Avatar

      John Brown

      Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 4:08 pm

      As long as the rapid tests are antigen tests (not antibody), are calibrated to catch all the prevalent strains where they are being used, and are cheap enough to be able to repeat to confirm positive results to address specificity issues (that PCRs also share), then what you wrote is actually correct.

      It’s not a complete solution though. We still need PCRs, and we still need lockdowns. But low cost antigen at-home tests given for free/cheap that everyone can use every 4 days will massively reduce the reliance on PCR volume and reduce lockdown time.

      See my comment further below for more details.

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 5:17 pm

        The problem, John Brown, is that THEY’RE NOT.

        TESTS LIKE THAT DO NOT EXIST, which is why no country in the world uses them – even Japan recognises the limitations of the tests.

        NO COUNTRY IN THE WORLD APPROVES OF THE TESTS AS YOU DESCRIBE THEM. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS?????

  3. Avatar

    John Brown

    Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 4:00 pm

    There are two types of rapid tests that can be done entirely at home. Antibody (Ab) tests, and antigen (Ag) tests.

    Antibody (Ab) tests are *not useful* for detecting a current infection. They are only useful for detecting if a person *has been infected in the past*, and will only turn positive after several weeks have passed and the person is most likely no longer infectious.

    Cheap, at-home antigen (Ag) tests, on the other hand, are *very useful* for detecting existing infections and are sometimes called “contagiousness tests”.

    However, there is a correct way to use Ag home tests, and an incorrect way to use them.

    The incorrect way is to use them when you have symptoms, test negative, then think you’re fine. If you have symptoms, you need to get a PCR and isolate until you get confirmed negative (and even then you should still consider isolating, unless you live somewhere with the resources and public health sense that they will test you again to confirm the negative).

    The correct way to use Ag tests is to test on a regular basis whether or not you have symptoms. The interval proposals range from once every morning, to once every 4 days, to once per week. If a test comes up positive but you have no symptoms, test again. If it’s positive again, seek a PCR test.

    Used correctly and widely, Ag tests can drastically cut case numbers and bring the pandemic under control. Used incorrectly, they will waste a lot of money without helping much. FORTUNATELY, THEY ARE NOT DIFFICULT TO USE.

    This is well-documented and understood by anyone who actually does or follows the science, and isn’t just parroting mainstream news based on quotes from either bureaucrats protecting their territory or elderly clinicians who can’t do math.

    Wide-scale deployment of at-home Ag tests will lower the amount of time for lockdowns to be effective and, when combined with a responsible and responsive lockdown and border control policy and a sensible NPI (non-pharmaceutical intervention) policy, they can help get us to COVID-zero *very fast*.

    However, like all PCR tests, Ab tests need to be updated regularly to keep up with mutations that will affect testing accuracy over time.

    Michael Mina at Harvard’s TS Chan School of Public Health, among many others, has spent all of 2020 campaigning for this. He and many others have made a wealth of accurate information available online for anyone who wants to learn more. They have spent countless hours dispelling dangerous misinformation from ignorant people who FUD rapid tests because their desire to have a loud opinion exceeds their ability to do math, making them useful idiots for those who don’t want the rapid tests to go out for special interests that are against the public benefit.

    Meanwhile here is just the latest study in a long line of studies on the topic of rapid test sensitivity and specificity: “Test sensitivity is secondary to frequency and turnaround time for COVID-19 screening”

    advances sciencemag org/content/7/1/eabd5393

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 5:27 pm

      John Brown, if “this is well-documented and understood by anyone who actually does or follows the science” then WHY HAS EVERY COUNTRY REJECTED IT?

      Are you seriously saying that all the leading scientists in authority in every country in the world are “ignorant people who FUD rapid tests because their desire to have a loud opinion exceeds their ability to do math, making them useful idiots for those who don’t want the rapid tests to go out for special interests that are against the public benefit”?

      ALL OF THEM? They’re all “ignorant people” who lack the “ability to do math” etc?

      … They’re ALL wrong? All except you, and those you agree with?

      Maybe, just maybe, all the world’s leading scientists in every country, without exception, just might know what they’re talking about as for once they’re all in agreement…..

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 8:54 pm

        So what you’re still saying, although you’ve avoided actually saying it, is that ALL the world’s leading scientists and experts on Covid in positions of authority in EVERY country in the world, are ““ignorant people”, “idiots”, who lack the “ability to do math”.

        ALL OF THEM. Without exception. Except you, of course. Because you’re an expert, sitting in on all the meetings, but you can’t tell anyone because if you do you’ll be arrested. Of course you are.

      • Avatar

        John Brown

        Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 11:35 pm

        Wow, The Thaiger is refusing to publish my comment about this sad old man I’ve told to leave me alone but who keeps stalking my replies to other people. That’s wild ?

        You blew any chance of me talking to you again when I spent hours on replying to you in good faith and you didn’t even do the primary reading you asked for, John. Now go away, learn to read science arguments from both sides, and do the math in the methodology to see if the reasoning holds up. When you’re able to demonstrate that you’ve done this, you’ll be worth my time again. Now piss off.

        Oh and learn to understand the literacy gap between the real domain experts and the policy-makers that sit on panels while you’re at it.

        • Avatar

          Issan John

          Thursday, January 7, 2021 at 3:09 pm

          Wow. That must have touched a nerve.

    • Avatar

      John Brown

      Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 5:35 pm

      Sorry, a couple of typos here.

      “However, like all PCR tests, Ab tests…” This should read *Ag* tests. Antigen, antibody.

      And TH Chan, not TS.

  4. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 4:24 pm

    I will write this short. Any test that find a person positive for the virus is useful right?
    The same Rapid test might find persons that are positive, not positive, but that does not matter.
    The test has found some persons positive. THAT IS USEFUL.
    This Rapid test does not find persons positive that are not.
    It is a bit like fishing. The test catches some fish and misses others.
    One of my sources is professor Michael Mina of Harvard University. I did check before posting.
    where are your sources, Isaan John? No don’t tell me, it was the British newspaper the Sun, right?
    I see you do not trust Professor Michael Mina Mr Brown, but I do.

    • Avatar

      John Brown

      Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 6:51 pm

      Yes, this is right, Toby.

      The rapid tests are far from perfect, especially on specificity. There are way too many false positives.

      But if they are cheap enough that people can afford to take a 2nd test when the 1st test is positive, then this solves the false positive problem with.

      Mina et al demonstrated the math behind this so clearly that people who still disagree are just ? (laughing-crying emoji)…. Except that so many people are dying because of their stupidity that it is actually ? (crying emoji)

      You’ve seen his TIME magazine and NYT articles, right? They’re pretty good.

      time com/5912705/covid-19-stop-spread-christmas/

      nytimes com/2020/07/03/opinion/coronavirus-tests.html

      Another strong article from the Atlantic: theatlantic com/health/archive/2020/08/how-to-test-every-american-for-covid-19-every-day/615217/

      Another Mina piece on Twitter, rejecting another NYT article with a terrible headline that misled the public and caused a lot of damage. Warning: there’s a little math involved!

      twitter com/michaelmina_lab/status/1324250948231979009

      So yes, you are absolutely right about trusting Mina on this particular issue. Rapid tests, used correctly, will help a lot. But lockdowns will still be necessary! Just for shorter periods.

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 9:06 pm

        Remind me again, would you John Brown, what countries have approved these tests for home use?

        Which of the experts on the national panels in any country have agreed with him?

        Any at all?

        Surely SOME of them can “do the math”?

        Surely they’re not ALL that “stupid”?

        Surely they don’t ALL have “special interests” that mean they don’t care that “so many people are dying because of their stupidity”?

        ALL OF THEM?

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 9:21 pm

        … and BTW, John Brown, the problem according to the experts isn’t that “there are way too many false positives”, but that there are way too many false NEGATIVES. In the UK’s trial, the rapid flow self-administered tests missed 51% of the positives – as you can “do the math”, you don’t need me to tell you that’s over half.

    • Avatar

      John Brown

      Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 11:46 pm

      No need to listen to dogs barking, Toby, you’re absolutely right about this. People who can’t do math and are too lazy to even try don’t understand the so-called false negative problem of antigen tests then get really uptight when other people see something is a good idea that they don’t understand because they haven’t put in the work to. It’s the same whether it’s policy-makers or random nobodies in the comments section of website, they get really upset because it makes them feel insecure and uncomfortable that other people know something that they don’t.

      Maybe if they tried to have an original thought for once it would give them the inspiration to get off their lazy ass, learn some new skills, and solve the problem.

      But you can definitely trust Mina here. He knows what he’s talking about. For example, here

      “Also, these nuances of Virus kinetics and PCR positivity vs antigen positivity vs transmissibility are NOT simple and are NOT the types of things, particularly w a novel virus, that most physicians and researchers are supposed to know. This is a niche area of science. It is partly why there has been so much confusion. Most ppl do not study/model within-host virus kinetics and link to diagnostic and public health tools. It’s a small niche area. But for those of us who do study these pre-COVID, this is all turning out as expected – a good thing”

      twitter com/michaelmina_lab/status/1324258894294732801?s=20

  5. Avatar

    Issan John

    Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 5:39 pm

    ” Any test that find a person positive for the virus is useful right?”

    WRONG.

    If more than half the tests tell people they’re negative when they’re actually positive that’s NOT “useful”. It’s worse than useless.

    … and FWIW, John Brown does trust professor Michael Mina, so you couldn’t even get that right.

    My “sources” are the leading scientists and Covid experts in authority in every country in the world. That’s EVERY country, Toby A, without exception. None happen to agree with Michael Mina. Not one.

    Now, who should I trust ….. all the leading scientists and Covid experts in every country in the world, who for once all agree, or Michael Mina, John Brown, and you?

    … on balance, I think I’ll go along with all the leading scientists and Covid experts in every country in the world …..

  6. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Thursday, January 7, 2021 at 12:13 am

    Well I give up, first Issan john writes these tests are useful, and then later writes they are not.
    They identify those with the virus, sometimes accurate, sometimes not, but they still identify those with the virus.
    Despite all, they are an extra way of finding those with the virus, therefore useful . . .
    I will not continue objecting to the ramberlings of this Isaan idiot.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Thursday, January 7, 2021 at 3:17 pm

      No, Toby, what I’ve said is that they’d be “useful” IF they worked, IF they existed as described.

      IF.

      Unfortunately they don’t, although all Michael Mina says he needs to make them work is $20 billion in funding.

      Flip a coin and you’ll get similar accuracy, rather more cheaply.

  7. Avatar

    Issan John

    Thursday, January 7, 2021 at 3:05 pm

    So not only are ALL the scientists, Covid experts and epidemioligists in EVERY country in the world wrong about one of the few things they all agree on, without exception, and they’re all “idiots” who “can’t do the math”, who are also on the take from their “special interests” and they don’t care that “so many people are dying because of their stupidity” …

    … but now they’re all “too lazy to put the work in” as well.

    ALL OF THEM!

    So instead of trusting all of the world’s leading scientists, covid experts and epidemiologists who are in positions of authority in every country in the world on one of the few things they all agree on, the planet’s only chance of survival lies in Michael Mina’s hands, ably supported by you and Toby Andrews.

    … Oh well …..

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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