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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Posts About ‘Cross Reactants’ Misrepresent Accuracy of COVID-19 PCR Tests

Posts About ‘Cross Reactants’ Misrepresent Accuracy of COVID-19 PCR Tests

Polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests for COVID-19 are highly accurate. People on social media, however, are circulating lists of germs that they baselessly claim will cause such tests to be falsely positive. In reality, it’s the opposite. The lists include pathogens that have been tested by the manufacturers and did not react to the test.

Q&A on At-Home Rapid Tests

Q&A on At-Home Rapid Tests

The demand for at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests — sparked by the fast-spreading omicron variant in December — has continued in 2022. With that demand have come questions about the tests’ efficacy, how to use them and where to get them. We answer those queries and more.

Sequencing Used to Identify Delta, Other Coronavirus Variants

Sequencing Used to Identify Delta, Other Coronavirus Variants

Researchers use genomic sequencing — not the clinical tests used to diagnose patients with COVID-19 — to identify and track specific variants of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, including the highly contagious delta variant. But viral posts try to deny the existence of the variant by misleadingly claiming there is “no ‘Delta Variant’ test.”

Posts Baselessly Link COVID-19 Tests to Vaccine Conspiracy Theory

Posts Baselessly Link COVID-19 Tests to Vaccine Conspiracy Theory

The COVID-19 vaccines currently in use must be administered via injection. But Instagram posts baselessly suggest that Bill Gates and George Soros will use COVID-19 tests to secretly vaccinate people who haven’t yet received the shots. There is no evidence for that conspiracy theory, and scientists say trying to administer a vaccine with a swab would likely not be effective.

Viral Posts Misrepresent CDC Announcement on COVID-19 PCR Test

Viral Posts Misrepresent CDC Announcement on COVID-19 PCR Test

Scientists consider polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests a highly reliable tool for diagnosing COVID-19. But social media posts are misrepresenting a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announcement regarding the eventual discontinuation of its own test, falsely claiming the government has conceded that PCR tests aren’t reliable.

Viral Video Misleadingly Questions Safety of Nasal Swabs

Viral Video Misleadingly Questions Safety of Nasal Swabs

A chemical widely used to sterilize medical devices is also used for nasal swabs in COVID-19 testing. But a viral video misleadingly suggests that the swabs are dangerous — saying that the chemical causes cancer and can alter DNA. Experts say the chemical’s use in this context does not pose a threat to human health.

Story Twists Facts on Diagnosing Breakthrough COVID-19 Cases

Story Twists Facts on Diagnosing Breakthrough COVID-19 Cases

A viral headline shared on social media falsely asserts that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed testing thresholds to “virtually eliminate” COVID-19 cases among vaccinated individuals. That’s wrong. The threshold in question simply applies to whether or not there is enough virus present in a sample for further analysis.

Biden Hasn’t Reduced COVID-19 Testing at the Border

Biden Hasn’t Reduced COVID-19 Testing at the Border

The Biden administration has made no changes to COVID-19 testing policies for either U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or Customs and Border Patrol. But a claim circulating online falsely suggests that the administration has stopped testing detained immigrants before they are released.

Trump Campaign Aide’s Dubious Claim on Protecting the President

Trump Campaign Aide’s Dubious Claim on Protecting the President

A senior adviser to President Trump’s campaign made the dubious claim that Trump was “probably the most protected person on Earth,” because his visitors “must submit to a COVID test” and “people don’t physically get close” to him.

Updated: Q&A on Trump’s COVID-19 Diagnosis

Updated: Q&A on Trump’s COVID-19 Diagnosis

On Oct. 2, President Trump revealed that he and the first lady had tested positive for COVID-19. Here we answer common questions about the risks of the disease, treatments available and the shortcomings of testing.