The PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) is the test commonly used to detect the genetic material found in the Covid-19 virus among people. It consists of a nose swab to collect the material which is then placed in a machine that analyzes it and gives a result within a day or up to a few days. Researchers have found that Coronavirus mutations are able to hinder the detection of the Covid-19 virus by PCR tests. These mutations occur within the E Gene within Coronavirus DNA. The mutation on the E gene prevents the PCR primer from binding with the Covid-19 DNA and therefore prevents the detection of the virus. Researchers discovered this mutation within the E Gene by looking at the sample of Coronavirus DNA found in people who received false negative PCR test results for Covid-19. It was found that the Coronavirus DNA found in those who tested false negative for the virus had a lot more mutations on the E gene than the Coronavirus DNA of people who correctly tested positive. Virologists say that this is no immediate cause for concern as these mutations are still relatively rare. They are urging that people get tested using tests that look for more than one target to ensure that people are correctly diagnosed with the Coronavirus. The FDA has been monitoring Coronavirus mutations and how they interfere with Covid-19 testing methods. It is important that the manufacturers of Covid-19 tests convey the limitations of their tests to help prevent incorrect test results.
Link to Article: https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/coronavirus-mutations-could-muddle-covid-19-pcr-tests-68772
Related Link: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diagnostics/21462-covid-19-and-pcr-testing