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An image that shows a COVID-19 testing kit with control swabs labeled “positive” and “negative” is legitimate, but it doesn’t prove that COVID-19 tests are pre-loaded with a result. The swabs are used for quality control to make sure the test is working correctly, not for patient testing.
Control materials are routinely included in medical testing kits to ensure that the tests are performing as expected and recording the correct results.
More than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, misinformation is still spreading online about the tests used to diagnose whether someone has the infection.
The latest claim comes in the form of a photo circulating on Instagram, which appears to show two packages of SARS-CoV-2 antigen test swabs, with one labeled as a "positive control swab" and the other a "negative control swab." (Antigen tests detect the presence of a specific viral antigen, which implies current viral infection.)
"Nothing to see here folks!" reads the post’s caption. "It’s perfectly NORMAL to have PCR TESTS that are labelled ‘Positive’ and ‘Negative!’ There’s no conspiracy involved at all! They aren’t trying to manipulate and control the test results in any way! Trust your leaders."
Text overlaid along the bottom of the photo says: "Picture taken secretly by a nurse on shift. Name not mentioned for obvious reasons."
An Instagram post suggests that COVID-19 tests are fixed because a photo shows two packages of antigen testing kits with the labels "positive control swab" and "negative control swab."
This is a misinterpretation of the labels. Positive and negative control swabs are routinely included in testing kits for quality control — to ensure that the test is working correctly — not for patient testing.
We rate it False.
Instagram post, April 25, 2021
ACON Labs, Flowflex SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Test, Accessed April 28, 2021
ACON Labs, SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Test Package Insert, Accessed April 28, 2021
Abbott Labs, Panbio™ COVID-19 Ag Rapid Test Device, Accessed April 28, 2021
AFP Fact-check, 'Positive' and 'negative' control swabs in Covid-19 test kits only used for quality control, experts say, April 21, 2021
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