I am just filling a time gap between having completed my last Very Important Job (replacing all of the out-of-date COVID posters – yes it’s April 12th and there are new posters celebrating the re-opening of shops and tattoo parlours to go up!) and going for my second vaccine.
So I thought I’d write my blog as no doubt the PR Team (for which read ‘Beth’ who as well as being interim Head of Fundraising also does a multitude of other things as well) will be hot on my heels shortly if I don’t.
Also if I don’t do it now and my lymph nodes react the way they did with my first vaccine (anyone for tennis balls?) then I won’t be able to type comfortably very shortly.
Beware the false negative
There is an elephant in the room wearing invisible clothes that I want to talk about today.
I’d rather a naked elephant than a naked Emperor really and I love a mixed metaphor.
There is a lot of media coverage about Lateral Flow Tests and their levels of ‘false positive’ rates.
I.e. how often they say you have got the virus when actually you haven’t.
Which is good.
However (and if there wasn’t a ‘however’ there would be no shivering elephant).
No-one is talking about the false negatives – which is the real key for a care setting such as us.
I.e. how often you get told you DON’T have the virus – when actually you have and you are a raging hotbed of potential outbreak.
Depending on how far you manage to delve into the research journals on the web you get varying false negative rates, but the general consensus seems to be not far off 50%.
So, pretty much the same as a coin toss then.
The false negative really should be the issue. A false positive is a problem resulting in a temporary isolation pending a confirmatory PCR test. And if you have a negative PCR after a positive LFD then you can come back to work. A pain, awkward on staffing, but safe.
A false negative however, and such high levels at that, really are a potential time bomb as people will be walking around possibly carrying the virus but thinking that they are safe and therefore potentially being human and paying slightly less attention to their COVID routines.
And however good you are with your PPE and cleaning routines, a virus is a virus, it delights in circumventing the best measures you have in place to grow and spread. Its job is to be one step ahead of you, to replicate and mutate. That’s what it is there to do.
So – beware the false negative and treat these LFD tests for what they are – useful, indicative but by no means completely reliable.
For us this means that we do them because we have to do them – and the one day we had a positive (not false) we were deeply grateful, it makes the whole testing regime worthwhile) but we must remain vigilant.
Hands/Face/Space still remain our watchwords and will do for some time to come.
Lockdown maybe lifting in the outside world but nothing has changed COVID wise behind our doors and the doors of countless places like us around the country.
But for now – an outside seating space in a pub, a hair appointment booked in and a weekend away in the caravan looming and I am a happy person…