8 Oct 2021

Covid-19: Middlemore Hospital trial finds some discrepancies in PCR vs rapid antigen test results

From Morning Report, 7:40 am on 8 October 2021

Middlemore Hospital's chief medical officer says rapid antigen tests aren't poised to replace the standard PCR tests for Covid-19 yet.

The government is launching a pilot for the quick tests and will discuss them with business leaders today.

Middlemore Hospital in south Auckland was the first to trial the rapid antigen tests (RATs).

Its chief medical officer Dr Pete Watson told Morning Report they aren't as sensitive, and there were discrepancies in some results.

"When we have had a positive result, the PCR test has come back positive, that's been our experience. So we ruled in those tests where the RAT test turned out positive, but we've also had the opposite, which is that where the RAT test has turned out negative but we've suspected the person has Covid the PCR has turned positive."

Dr Watson said PCR testing is the gold standard, and rapid antigen testing won't replace it.

"It doesn't replace PCR testing, and when you get a negative test, particularly in somebody who's symptomatic, it's very important that we continue to take the gold standard PCR testing."

He says increasing the frequency of testing can make a difference.