Measuring the Sensitivity of COVID Tests With New Material From NIST

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Source: Rich Press, Public Affairs Specialist, NIST

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) research group that produces the Human DNA Quantitation Standard and other standards used in forensic DNA profiling have put their know-how to use in an effort to improve testing for COVID-19.

COVID tests can give a false negative if a person is infected but their viral load is too low for the test to detect. This is a function of test sensitivity, but currently there is limited data available on sensitivity.

To help with this, NIST has synthesized fragments of SARS-CoV-2 RNA that come in very carefully measured amounts. Researchers can use this material to measure sensitivity by running tests against known quantities of viral RNA. They can also use it when developing new types of tests.

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