How kids learned to fake positive Covid tests–and why

TikTok videos have taught kids that they can get out of school by faking positive Covid tests. All they have to do is pour lemon juice or Coke on them. Or apple sauce, or vinegar, or hand sanitiser, or assorted other acidic liquids. Or they can rub a kiwi across them.

And here I thought TikTok was about dancing.

In Britain, at least, if they do that it means other kids in their imaginary school bubbles get sent home for ten days along with them. And their families have to stay home. But hey, if you’ve got a math test coming up–

It’s a short-term strategy, because in Britain a positive lateral flow test has to be followed up with a PCR test, which you can’t take home and use as a stir-stick for your Coke. Still, it’s a strange enough story to earn its word count here.

Irrelevant photo: Another wildflower I can’t identify. [It’s an elderflower. Thanks to DinahMow for identifying it. Somewhere in this strange thing I call my brain, I knew that.]

A spokesperson for the National Education Union suggested that Covid tests be taken in school. But that wasn’t about lemon juice and Coke. Many kids have simply stopped using the ones they’re sent home with. 

A determined spoilsport, it turns out, can override a faked positive. You can pursue that one on your own if you’re interested. The link is here.

But the story doesn’t end there. A claim’s making the rounds that lateral flow tests are useless because if you test a glass or Coke and a kiwi it will register as having Covid. And since any reasonable person knows Coke and kiwis are immune, there must be something wrong with the tests.

Shout, “Conspiracy,” here if you would.

Thank you.

A fact-checking site called, factually enough, Fact Check points to the directions from one test, which say, “This kit has been evaluated for use with human specimen material only.” This goes to the root of the problem, which is that neither the kiwi nor the Coke is human.

You can shout, “Conspiracy,” again if you want, but I won’t orchestrate it this time. I don’t think it takes a conspiracy to prove that claim. 

Alexander Edwards, associate professor in Biomedical Technology and professional spoilsport, puts it another way: “If you completely ignore the manufacturer’s instructions or in fact use the test for something completely different, then you shouldn’t really be surprised if you get a silly result.” 

 

At last: a way that Covid doesn’t spread

A study of Covid samples from hospital surfaces found that they weren’t likely to infect anyone. That lends support to the belief that contaminated surfaces aren’t a major way to spread Covid. I’d love to explain that to you in more depth but the explanation went over my head. You’ll have to follow the link and see where your head is in relation to the information.

Even without understanding the explanation, though, it reassured  me to know that the damn virus has found a way not to spread. 

 

High fashion in the Covid era

With British kids back in school (when they can’t talk their parents into parting with a lemon) and Covid restrictions easing (in spite of a more aggressive form of the virus), colds are coming back into fashion. 

I’m not basing this on personal experience. I haven’t seen anyone with a cold in a year and a half, but then I’ve never been in the front ranks of fashion. When a style starts making sense to me, that’s a signal that it’s on its way out. But I read this in multiple publications, and those of you who care about trends need to go out and get yourselves a cold. 

Parents haven’t quite caught onto this, so they’re dragging their kids into Britain’s A&E departments. (A&E stands for accident and emergency and it’s the equivalent of US emergency room.) They–that’s the panicky parents–have forgotten what it is to have a kid with a fever, a cough, and a runny nose. 

In fairness to everyone, those are also Covid symptoms and I might panic myself.

Britain’s hospitals are already overwhelmed and have been for the past year and a half. Or for the past decade or so–ever since the government started cutting funds and saying, cheerily, “We’ve never given the NHS so much money.” So they’re not in shape to add kids with minor problems to the major-problem mix. Last month, fewer than 1% of children under 15 who went to A&E needed immediate attention and more than 72% weren’t seriously ill.

And 4.36% asked their parents if they couldn’t get a Coke from the vending machine, please.

The US is also seeing a rise in the number of colds as face masks come off. 

 

A petri dish for the world

The British government’s gone sports mad lately. We’re in the midst of the Euro tournament where they play–oh, I don’t know. Some damn thing involving a ball. The game’s not the point; the crowds are, because fans travel here and there to watch the games. They eat out. They drink. For all I know, they get happy and hug.

Then they go home, and so does Covid.

In Scotland, nearly 2,000 cases have now been linked to people gathering in public fanzones, pubs, and house parties to watch the games–not to mention stadiums. Some two-thirds of those are among the 1,300 people who went to London to watch the Scottish team play there. 

For a semifinal game in Wembley, the British government plans to allow the stadium to reach 75% of its capacity–the largest crowd at a sports event in over a year. 

The World Health Organization has warned that tournament crowds (in general, not specifically this one) can act as Covid amplifiers. And the European parliament’s committee on public health warned that such a large crowd at Wembley would be “a recipe for disaster.” But Britain’s left the European Union, so we don’t have to listen to them. The reason we left the EU was so we’d be free to spread our own germs in any way we want.

If the EU passes the law of gravity, we don’t have to follow that either.

The government’s making noises about lifting most of the remaining Covid restrictions in mid-July. When it isn’t saying that we may have to take some precautions. It’s hard to know which Boris Johnson to believe, but my money’s on him lifting most restrictions. I’m basing that on how many decibels are devoted to each side.

It’s not a prospect that makes me happy. As Mark Woolhouse, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology, said, “The UK is in a unique position. We’ve the biggest Delta outbreak in a well-vaccinated country. We are a petri dish for the world.”

The question is whether vaccination breaks the link between infection on the one hand and hospitalization and death on the other. The government seems to be betting that it will. My best guess is that vaccination will weaken the link but that without other controls–masks; an effective contact tracing system; reasonable sick pay for people who are supposed to stay off work–it won’t be enough.

 

Updating the list of Covid symptoms

Assorted experts are calling for the UK to expand its list of Covid symptoms. It currently lists only the Big Three: cough, loss of the senses of smell and taste, and a high fever. 

Europe’s list includes headache, weakness, tiredness, muscle aches, runny nose, loss of appetite, and sore throat–symptoms that often begin before the Big Three and are more common in young, unvaccinated people. 

But hey, we left Europe. We get to enact our own symptoms.

 

Your small dose of hopeful news

A small study showed the Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine to be effective against the Delta variant.

42 thoughts on “How kids learned to fake positive Covid tests–and why

  1. You might have an elder in that irrelevant photo,

    My brain got tired after a couple of lines about Tiktok videos…“`fdrrrrrrrccc
    &*88dssd
    So apparently, did my ca5= You can probably ask Eddie to translate!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Aha! You’re right about the photo. I remember it now–what it is and where I took it. And here I thought I was elder enough not to have a lot of elders left.

      Eddie’s currently consulting on the origin of some mouse droppings–ahem, Edward–and doesn’t have time to translate. I’ll ask him about it later.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Those new symptoms that the EU wants to add to the list are also symptoms of hayfever. At the moment I have a more or less constantly running nose, an occasional headache, the odd cough and sore throat and I’m always tired. I suspect that the last is more associated with running than hayfever, though. How would I, a fully-vaccinated person, know the difference between a mild dose of covid and a moderate attack of hayfever? I’m hoping the lateral flow test is accurate enough to tell me.

    I was hearing people celebrate last night and wondered how big an impact on the number of cases two more wins would have. It will mostly be younger people, so probably quite a large impact.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And as I wrote about kids with, basically, cold showing up in A&E, I had the same thoughts about the Covid symptoms: How is a person to tell the difference? I think–I haven’t checked this–that more reliable quick tests are now on the market. I wish we were using them. I also wish Johnson & Co. weren’t hell bent on undoing the progress we’ve made, but I’m very much afraid that they’ll decide we’re made of iron, immune to everything except boredom, and need to get out there and have fun come July–what is it? 17?

      Liked by 1 person

      • 19th. I know. I’m planing for a meeting of 25 people indoors for the following Saturday and regardless of what anyone says, we’ll be requiring people to wear masks for most of the time. I’m one of the youngest people in that group and I don’t want anyone to get sick/die just because they were finally able to come and meet everyone else again.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The Delta variant is making some people here rethink giving up their masks, which seems like a good idea. The infection rates are beginning o correlate with t he areas with low vax rates. Which only seems to surprise those in the areas where infections are increasing and there are low vax rates.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, yeah. Who’d have expected that?

      Over here, it’s looking increasingly like, in the face of the Delta variant, we’re going to give up our masks and pretend everything’s fine. That will be known as living with the virus. Or possibly dying with it, or getting chronic illnesses with it. We’ll know more later.

      Idiots.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I expect we’re dealing with the high-end fakery and the low-end fakery. Organic free-range kiwi versus malt vinegar, which can be found growing wild on the malt-vinegar weed at almost any time of year. The thing is, both work.

      Like

  4. Kids eh? Whereas the fact it proved so easy to get round doesn’t seem to be gaining much in the way of column inches. Another world-beating piece of kit then…

    Liked by 1 person

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