PCR discernment capability

darren sharpe made this Official Information request to Ministry of Health

The request was successful.

From: darren sharpe

Dear Ministry of Health,
Following the confirmation by the CDC that the PCR tests approved for use, (with the cycle count as specified by the test author and owner) were developed without having actual viral materials available, and therefore were developed on assumptions and computer assisted simulation are found to be unable / unreliable to distinguish between standard Coronavirus flu infection and new novel Coronavirus 2019,
Can you confirm that the test in NZ is not from one of these test houses (the list is readily available from the CDC website)
Can you also confirm that the test is able to distinguish between the novel coronavirus 2019 and the common coronavirus in circulation around New Zealand, and outline how this has been established

Yours faithfully,

Darren Sharpe

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Kia ora Darren,


Thank you for your email.


The Ministry can confirm that none of the assays are from the commercial
manufacturers. More information can be found here:


The variants of COVID-19 (including the delta variant) are determined by
Whole Genome Sequencing. Detailed information on genome sequencing can be
found on the genome sequencing Q&A on ESR’s website at the following
link: [2]https://www.esr.cri.nz/our-expertise/cov...


Under section 28(3) of the Act you have the right to ask the Ombudsman to
review any decisions made under this request. The Ombudsman may be
contacted by email at: [3][email address] or by calling 0800
802 602. 


Ngâ mihi 

OIA Services Team 


[4]Ministry of Health information releases 

[5]Unite against COVID-19 


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Susan Pockett left an annotation ()

It would greatly help everyone if the requester here could post a URL where the CDC lists the unacceptable tests in question, because I could not find any such list.

All I do know is that the NZ MoH does almost exclusively use various commercial PCR tests (which makes their statement in reply to this request ... shall we say open to interpretation.)

Also, the dataset they EVENTUALLY posted in response to my own OIA request shows fairly clearly that Abbott tests, for example, routinely provide radically different results from Xpert tests. This difference is always in the direction of the Abbott test's showing that a given sample is strongly infectious, while the Xpert test has to be run for sometimes MORE THAN 40 cycles before it delivers a Ct result on that sample.

This discrepancy is seriously problematic, because :
(1) other examples of multiple-tests-done-on-the-same-sample in our MoH's database show that Xpert tests agree very well with all the other brands of commercial test used by the MoH -- or at least all the other brands with which they have been directly compared
-- and --
(2) MOST of the data in the MoH's database of positive tests -- aka "cases" of covid -- DOES NOT IDENTIFY which kind of PCR test was used.

To put it plainly, these results strongly suggest that Abbott tests deliver unreliable results, in the direction of inflating the number of 'cases' -- AND WE SIMPLY DON'T KNOW how many of the positive test results claimed as cases by our MoH were produced using an Abbott test.

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