Fact Check: COVID-19 Swabs Labeled 'Positive' And 'Negative' Are NOT Manipulated To Predetermine Results -- They're Control Swabs

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: COVID-19 Swabs Labeled 'Positive' And 'Negative' Are NOT Manipulated To Predetermine Results -- They're Control Swabs Control Test

Are COVID-19 tests that are labeled "positive control swab" and "negative control swab" manipulated to deliver predetermined results? No, that's not true: The SARS-CoV-2 test packaging shown in a photograph on social media are included in the kits for quality control and not used for patients, per the instructions in the kits.

The claim appeared as an Instagram post on January 4, 2022. It opened:

Picture taken secretly by a nurse on shift. Name not mentioned for obvious reasons.

image (46).png(Image source: Instagram screenshot taken on Thur Jan 06 18:22:31 2022 UTC)

The positive and negative control swabs are not proof that there is a "fix" for results of COVID tests.

The image shows two packages from ACON Laboratories, Inc. for "SARS-CoV-2 Antigen" tests with one label reading, "Positive Control Swab," and the other reading, "Negative Control Swab." ACON Laboratories, in San Diego, sells multiple COVID tests. The one in the image is an antigen rapid test named "Flowflex" that was released in December 2020 and marketed for professional use, not as an at-home rapid test.

The package insert for the tests states: "A rapid test for the qualitative detection of SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid antigens in nasal swab specimens. For professional in vitro diagnostic use only":

Screen Shot 2022-01-07 at 11.24.49 AM.png

(Image source: Flowflex package insert screenshot taken on Fri Jan 07 19:40:23 2022 UTC)

The package insert explains why there are positive and negative control swabs in the tests:

Internal procedural controls are included in the test. A colored line appearing in the control line region (C) is an internal procedural control. It confirms sufficient specimen volume and correct procedural technique. Positive and Negative control swabs are supplied with each kit. These control swabs should be used to ensure that the test cassette and that the test procedure is performed correctly. Follow the "DIRECTIONS FOR USE" section to perform the control test. The control swabs can be tested under any of the following circumstances:
1. When new lot of tests are used and/or when a new operator performs the test.
2. At periodic intervals as dictated by local requirements, and/or by the user's Quality Control procedures.

Screen Shot 2022-01-07 at 11.32.43 AM.png

(Image source: Flowflex package insert screenshot taken on Fri Jan 07 19:44:23 2022 UTC)

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.

  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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