It has been nearly two years since ScientificAmeriKen interviewed an early COVID infected person, and now the virus has finally made its way to infect ScientificAmeriKen and his family. Gaining entry through the hapless child via his school, ScientificAmeriKen had time to prepare and defeat the virus - however the impacts on ScientificAmeriKen will be a topic of a future issue. Here, ScientificAmeriKen seized the opportunity to examine the at-home covid tests, and understand just how effective they are. These home tests typically deliver results within minutes using antibodies that identify covid viral proteins. However, these test require a swab be entered into the nose, which nobody likes. Therefore, ScientificAmeriKen explores all possible easy roads to covid testing!

Prior to 2020, the coughs, sniffles, and sneezes of our fellow citizens held little concern in our daily ongoings. But even here in 2022, two and a half years into the pandemic, such indicators signal dispersion of ravenous covid virion! It is the hypothesis of this experiment that coughing and breathing on the swabs of an at home kit would be enough to indicate a positive in an infected person, saving the discomfort of the full nose swab process.

For this experiment, ScientificAmeriKen was approximately 6 days into his Covid infection time course. It was noted that on what might be considered day 1 (start of a sore throat), Scientific AmeriKen tested weakly positive (faint band) after leaving the kit sitting for ~2 hours. For this experiment, 6 testing strategies were attempted as described in the results. The covid test was a BinaxNow Covid Test from Abbot.

Condition Result

Suggested Approach:
(Swab 5 rotations - shallow-middle of nostril, both sides)

Time for positive control: 1 minute 18 seconds

Result: Positive with solution front - 18 seconds

Quick Approach:
(Swab 1 rotation - shallow-middle of nostril, one side)

Time for positive control: 1 minute 21 seconds

Result: Positive 1 minute 33 seconds

Breathing on it:
(Breathed from mouth on swab for 1 minute)

Time for positive control: 1 minute 19 seconds

Result: Negative (>2 hours)

Breathing on it (through nose):
(Breathed from nose on swab for 1 minute)

Time for positive control: 1 minute 20 seconds

Result: Negative (>2 hours)

Coughing on it:
(Forceful coughs on the swab for about 20-30 seconds)

Time for positive control: 1 minute 15 seconds

Result: Negative (>2 hours)

Finger approach:
(Finger was placed into nostril and swabbed, then rubbed onto swab)

Time for positive control: 1 minute 18 seconds

Result: Negative (>2 hours)

This experiment yielded many surprising results, the first of which was that proper techniques were nearly completely necessary despite having "dye-front" positive status. It was noted that just a quick swab of the nose was positive in near similar time as the positive control band - but unfortunately none of the less invasive strategies were successful. This suggests that especially early on in the infection it would be critical to have proper procedure to get a positive result if you are positive - or even more invasive approaches (video explanation here). Next, that despite being rabidly positive - the coughs, breathings, and infected touchings of ScientificAmeriKen did not turn any test positive - which raises the question of just how is this virus jumping from person to person? The most likely explanation is that the test is just not sensitive enough to pick up the small amounts of virus being shed by these actions - yet perhaps in time enough virion would be shed to cause a transmission. In total, this study reveals that these test are very prone to false negatives and that any positive should be greetings with, "good luck - get well soon!".


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