An article published on September 6, 2020, by the Daily Monitor, a Ugandan independent daily newspaper, claims that the government of Uganda has admitted to mistakes in COVID-19 results.
The article reads in part, “The Health Ministry has admitted lapses in COVID-19 test results and have now developed strategies to address the rising cases of inconsistencies in results being released by laboratories it has accredited.”
When it comes to knowing your medical status, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, the ideal scenario is to have a 100% accurate, widely available, easy to administer and evaluate test. But issues of errors with the tests have come up since the outbreak, as was reported in South Korea, China, Japan and Kenya.
According to the Mayo Clinic, COVID-19 antibody testing may not always be accurate and can lead to false-positive or false-negative test results:
- False-positive- The test result is positive, but you actually don’t have antibodies and you did not have an infection in the past. A false-positive result could give you a false sense of security that you’re protected from getting another COVID-19 infection — and even with a true positive result, immunity is questionable.
- False-negative- You have antibodies to the COVID-19 virus, but the test does not detect them. Or you’re tested too soon after infection and your body has not had time to develop antibodies.
Uganda has so far recorded 3,900 COVID-19 cases and 1,817 recoveries and 46 deaths from the disease.
Uganda’s Ministry of Health dismissed the report by the Daily Monitor in a tweet dated September 7, 2020, as being “inaccurate and misleading.”
The @MinofHealthUG urges the public to disregard the inaccurate and misleading reports by Daily Monitor and Matooke Republic that is circulating on social media.
Please refer to the Minister’s statement as addressed on Friday, 04th September, 2020 on https://t.co/DZH6rCP2h6 pic.twitter.com/ygo6VXf2ze
— Ministry of Health- Uganda (@MinofHealthUG) September 7, 2020
The ministry subsequently directed the public to refer to the official address on the ministry’s official website, delivered by the Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, on September 4, 2020. In the scanned address, the ministry addressed the claims on variations in COVID-19 test results outcomes.
On the claim of receiving different results slips, the ministry said it had noted “serious forgery” of the test result certificates by sections of the public, adding that remedial measures have been put in place in the lab department to weed out the fake certificates.
Regarding the claim of different results being obtained from two different samples on the same day, the ministry said attributed the difference to the sampling technique and the amount of sample obtained.
The ministry also urged that those individuals who were found to have tested positive for COVID-19, whether they exhibited the symptoms or not, to “take the test as truly positive” and adhere to the necessary protective measures.