The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released updated recommendations for measuring “breakthrough” COVID-19 cases (vaccinated people contracting the virus), recommending that PCR test periods be kept below 28 to avoid false positives. False positives may jeopardize vaccine funding; reported humans are free.

One solution is to change the cycle threshold currently used to determine whether or not a patient is infected. The cycle threshold is the number of amplification cycles needed to find the virus, also known as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Virus.

An epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Dr. Michael Mina, said tests with thresholds that high might detect not just live virus but also genetic fragments, leftovers from an infection that poses no particular risk—akin to finding a hair in a room long after a person has left.

The cycle threshold, or the number of amplification cycles needed to find the virus, is never included in the results sent to doctors and coronavirus patients, even though it could indicate how contagious the patients are.

The majority of tests set the cap at 40, with a few at 37. If the test took up to 40 cycles, or 37, you are positive for the coronavirus.

The FDA, which approved the test for public use, suggests that the tests should be run up to 40 cycles.

A virologist at the University of California, Riverside, Juliet Morrison, agreed any test with a cycle threshold above 35 is too sensitive. She said that it astounded her that people think 40 was a good number.

When the PCR COVID test is performed at “35 cycles or higher,” Dr. Fauci says the test is useless and deceptive.

The CDC’s calculations suggest that it is extremely difficult to detect any live virus in a sample above a threshold of 33 cycles.

Based on a threshold of 40 cycles, the lab detected 872 positive tests in July 2020.

With a threshold of 35, roughly 43% of such samples will no longer be considered positive. If the periods were reduced to 30, about 63 percent of them would no longer be considered optimistic.

PCR tests, rapid molecular tests, and antigen tests are used to diagnose present, active infection with the COVID-19 virus. PCR tests are widely considered the most reliable, and they are the “gold standard” by which other tests are judged, according to Doctor of Philosophy, Andrew N. Cohen.

PCR stands for a polymerase chain reaction. This chemical reaction repeatedly duplicates certain targeted segments of the virus’s RNA until there’s enough of it to be detected. 

The PCR test works by amplifying genetic material from the virus in cycles; the fewer cycles needed, the more virus, or viral load, is present in the sample. The higher the viral load, the more infectious the patient is.

When people are newly infected, they can have a low viral load, according to the FDA.

Antigen tests are an essential tool in the overall response against COVID-19 and benefit public health. One of the main advantages of an antigen test is the speed of the test, which can provide results in minutes.

The sensitivity of antigen tests is not as high as that of molecular tests due to the possibility of lower sensitivity than molecular assays.

However, false-positive results may occur with any diagnostic test, particularly in low-prevalence settings.

Diagnostic test findings should always be carefully considered in the light of all available clinical, diagnostic, and epidemiological data by health care providers.

False-positive findings may also be due to patient-specific factors like the presence of human antibodies (for example, Rheumatoid Factor or other non-specific antibodies) or extremely viscous specimens.