Questions for “Super-absorbent swab could curb errors in COVID-19 testing”

a photo of healthcare workers testing people in cars at a drive-up site

Healthcare workers use nasal swabs to conduct COVID-19 testing at a drive-up site. If someone’s result wrongly comes back negative, that person could unknowingly keep spreading the virus.

Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images News

To accompany “Super-absorbent swab could curb errors in COVID-19 testing


Before Reading:

1.  How are most tests for COVID-19 performed in communities today?

2.  If the answers that come back from such tests are 60 to 90 percent accurate, what do you suppose that means for risk the virus will spread?

During Reading:

1.  What’s the problem if a COVID-19 test gives a false-negative result? What does that mean and why would that be important?

2.  How “big” are the nanofibers used to make the new swabs?

3.  What’s the name of the process used to make those fibers? How does it work?

4.  How do the new swabs compare to the other two types tested in the new study?

5.  According to the story, why could a PCR test conclude someone was not infected when in fact they were?

6.  Why might an error rate in COVID-19 testing of even one percent be a problem, based on what you read?

After Reading:

1.  Even if people get a COVID-19 test today and the result comes back negative, why should they still mask up, maintain physical distancing and continue to avoid crowds? (Hint: What have you heard in the news about the efficacy of tests, new strains (or variants) of the virus and reinfections?)