A woman with Covid charts the ridiculous amount of time and tests it took to find out she had it

Originally published at: A woman with Covid charts the ridiculous amount of time and tests it took to find out she had it | Boing Boing


Same thing just happened to my wife and I. We got covid over thanksgiving and starting having symptoms but a lab PCR test came back negative for both of us. We took several rapid tests that came back positive for me while my wife’s were negative. It knocked us on our asses for the better part of two weeks.

Don’t trust the tests. If you have symptoms then you probably have Covid and you should act accordingly.


Ah yes, that describes the past week for me and my best friend – fortunately not us ourselves, but our adult-living-elsewhere relatives who were hoping to be able to come to a family get-together – 8 days in, ‘only’ 3 have tested positive between our families, but there’s no way there aren’t a few more on the horizon, with viral loads just below the threshold of these tests.


She seems angry that PCR results take 3 days?

My understanding is rapid tests at best 50/50 - if they come back positive?

EDIT: False-negative rate for PCR test in first 5days seems to be at best 67%.

Over the 4 days of infection before the typical time of symptom onset (day 5), the probability of a false-negative result in an infected person decreased from 100% (95% confidence interval [CI], 100%-100%) on day 1 to 67% (CI, 27%-94%) on day 4. On the day of symptom onset, the median false-negative rate was 38% (CI, 18%-65%).


There’s lots of info all over the internet AND this BBS, but here are a few quick highlights for you:

PCR tests can take 3 hours if you get them from, say, a large teaching hospital where they have their own labs to run them in batches all day.

In rural Indiana – ask me how I know – they take the full 3 days for results because who knows where or how often the samples are getting shipped to a test lab.

And rapid tests, well, what they indicate is when your viral load is high enough that you absolutely are contagious. A PCR test will pick it up days before a rapid test does, but that doesn’t mean the rapid test is wrong.


All medical tests need clinical context for them to have any use. And in a lot of cases (not just with COVID), the pre-test probability is so high or low that a test doesn’t add much value.

So for her, with known exposure followed by typical symptoms, I don’t give a shit what a test shows. Even if the test is negative, a patient like this needs to be treated as COVID.


Particularly in the era of omicron, unless you are boosted, if a family member has it, assume all have it. Tests are viral load and highly technique dependent, and especially with what is honestly a fairly noxious sampling technique, it is very easy to, in an effort to not inflict suffering, gather an inadequate sample. Omicron is just amazingly infectious. I don’t know if it has reached the kind of R0 that we see with measles, like 10ish, but it is bad. Between this and the “swing and a miss” status of this year’s flu shot, not liking the prospects of this winter.


What’s strange in my case was thinking back on the timeline, my wife and I were both exposed on the Monday before thanksgiving. We found out that the person who exposed us tested positive on Wednesday morning. We went right out and got a PCR test that day with the results (negative) coming back 24 hours later. Wednesday evening while we were waiting for the PCR results we took a home rapid test which showed positive for me and negative for my wife.

Thursday we first started to feel symptoms coming on with full blown onset of illness by Saturday night.

So in my case at least the rapid antigen test showed positive before the PCR did.

We didn’t go get another PCR test as by then we knew for sure that we had it so there was really no point. Plus we felt like shit and didn’t want to leave the house.


An article in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine says “just under 7,” which is … wow.


That’s one of the things about omicron: the timeline from exposure to onset seems to be ridiculously fast. Not surprising that a morning PCR test came back negative but by the evening of the same day the viral load had increased so exponentially that you got a positive result for a rapid test.


I wonder if being vaccinated keeps the loads lower to prevent tests detecting it well?

Sigh - another reason to continue to stay away from filthy animals. I had to get presents a couple days in a row, and made sure to double mask with a KN-95 because the Omnicron seems so much more transmissible.


Meanwhile we can’t get a test at all. All the stores are sold out of at home tests, urgent care places are all out of tests, short of hospital admission there’s no way to get tested. (atlanta suburbs) So we’re just assuming we have it (all vaccinated so we just have cold like symptoms).


There is no seems about it. It’s totally taken over Delta as the most common variant in the US, in an incredibly short amount of time. I

It’s definitely respirator grade mask time.

With respirator grade masks, double masking may actually hurt filtration by increasing breathing resistance which can increase bypass around the edges of the mask, as can wearing a surgical mask under a respirator grade mask by compromising the mask seal.

Double masking is a hack that can be useful to make a flat procedural mask fit better by wearing a tight fitting cloth mask over it (or a mask fitter). Some front line workers wear procedural masks under or over their respirator grade masks to try to extend the life of limited supplies of N95s, but it isn’t for better fit or filtration.


We have anti-vax friends of the family that were ill for well over a week before finally testing positive. The husband is in the hospital now, dying. The problem with the lag on getting positive test results is that for a week, they were likely spreading the damn thing around everywhere.


I wonder how the pfizer pill will work out. Everything I read said it needs to be given within five days of symptoms but if you can’t get a test will they just assume and prescribe the pill or will they wait for test results making the pill not as effective.

If they just start passing out the pill do we risk the same thing that worries doctors about over prescribing antibiotics.

So many questions.


The Pfizer pill is going to be in very limited supply for at least half a year and hella expensive. I suspect it won’t be given to people with even moderate symptoms, but only the most severe symptoms or comorbidities caught early enough.


A coworker of my daughter tested positive. The timeline is such that it is possible she was exposed but unlikely and if she was we should all be shedding virus all over.

I did a rapid test test on her and here is my wife’s transcript of the sampling:

Daughter: “it burns! It burns!"
Father (unsympathetically): “that probably means I’m doing it right.”

Anyway she was negative and symptom free. Other than her nose reacting to a swab being shoved up it.


Just got an email stating that due to shipping delays my sample will no longer be viable for testing.


OMG, that’s next-level. Have they offered any solution?


Or just give up, keep wearing a mask, and hope for the best. I’m done with testing and quarantine and all the rest. Time to just close eyes, put fingers in ears and yell, “nah nah nah” as loud as possible.