Top scientist says Covid tests are a waste of time and money

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Head of Ezintsha at Wits University, Professor Francois Venter, says testing for Covid-19 is waste of time, money, and hospital resources.

According to Prof Venter, Covid-19 tests are not a reliable way to assess your risk.

Venter says the results aren’t the best indicator for deciding whether or not to isolate or self-quarantine, and for how long.

He maintains that Covid-19 tests should be reserved for hospitalised patients and healthcare workers only.

The professor is a part of the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on Covid-19, although he speaks to CapeTalk in his capacity as a medical research expert.

He’s also a part of the Scientists Collective, a group of South Africa’s leading medical scientists and academics, which is currently publishing a series of informative Covid-19 articles on the Daily Maverick.

Venter explains that Covid-19 tests are unreliable for the following reasons, as stated on Daily Maverick:

  • If the result is negative, you can still have the virus – it may be too early or too late (and you are no longer infectious) to detect the virus OR the sample has technical issues when being processed.
  • If the result is positive, it means you are infected, but it does not indicate if you are infectious or not.

Prof Venter says time-based isolation or quarantine is a more practical and reliable solution if you have Covid-19 symptoms or have been exposed to someone with the virus.

It’s recommended that you self-isolate for 10 days after the start of Covid-19 symptoms or a positive test result.

However, it’s recommended that you quarantine for 14 days if you have been exposed to a Covid-19 positive contact without any safety measures in place.

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