Why not everybody tests positive for Covid: The New York Times

Filed Under: Costs, Patients, Providers

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“As a science journalist, I’ve read dozens of research papers about Covid-19, and I’ve interviewed so many virologists, infectious disease physicians and immunologists over the past two years that I’ve lost count,” Melinda Wenner Moyer writes over at The New York Times. “But nothing prepared me for what happened after my 7-year-old daughter tested positive for Covid-19 nearly two weeks ago. It started the way you might expect: On a Sunday evening, my daughter spiked a fever. The next morning, we got an email informing us that she’d been exposed to the coronavirus on Friday at school. I gave her a rapid antigen test, which quickly lit up positive. I resigned myself to the possibility that the whole family was, finally, going to get Covid-19. But we didn’t — not exactly. I, for one, never developed symptoms or tested positive. On the day my daughter first tested positive, my 11-year-old son announced that he wasn’t feeling well and began developing classic coronavirus symptoms: headache, fatigue, sore throat, runny nose. My husband followed two days later with a sore throat and stuffy nose. Yet despite testing daily for seven days straight, my husband and son never tested positive for Covid-19 — including on PCR tests administered on my son’s fifth day of symptoms, and my husband’s third. (And yes, we did some throat swabs, too.) We racked our brains as to what might have happened: Did my husband and son get Covid, even though they never tested positive? Or did they have another virus that caused identical symptoms and happened to infect them right after they were exposed to Covid-19? (Our pediatrician said that was unlikely.) Why hadn’t I gotten sick at all? I called experts in immunology, microbiology and virology to get their take. Vaccination changes how your body reacts to the virus. One of the first questions experts asked me was whether my family was vaccinated. Yes, I said: My husband and I are vaccinated and boosted, and our kids are vaccinated but not yet boosted. This is a relevant question because, if you’re exposed to the virus that causes Covid-19, ‘your immune system kicks into action a lot faster if you’re vaccinated versus not vaccinated,’ said Gigi Gronvall, an immunologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore. And this rapid response changes everything about what happens next.” Melinda Wenner Moyer,
“Covid at Home: Why Only Some People Test Positive,” The New York Times.