COVID-19, Fact Checking

Inciensa certification circulating on social media speaks of number of tests and not of positive cases of COVID-19

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A certification from the Costa Rican Institute for Research and Teaching in Nutrition and Health (Inciensa, for its acronym in Spanish) published this Monday by a Facebook page dedicated to the dissemination of false information does not refer to the fact that in Costa Rica there are 855 positive cases of COVID-19 up to 13 April.

On the contrary, the document refers to the fact that this laboratory has processed to date 855 tests that have tested positive and 2,693 that have tested negative for COVID-19 infection. The Ministry of Health reiterated, once again, that the number of tests is not equal to the number of people tested: this is because there are tests that must be repeated, tests that came out negative and when repeating them, they turned out positive, among many other variables.

The Ministry noted that of the 855 positive tests indicated in the certification, 510 correspond to samples processed to certify that a person confirmed with COVID-19 is already recovered. Only Inciensa is allowed to perform the tests to certify that a person with COVID-19 has recovered.

The national protocol in force, and recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), states that a person diagnosed with COVID-19 should undergo two tests with a margin of 24 hours once the 14-day period after the first diagnosis has expired, in order to check if the person has recovered.

If one of those tests turns out positive, the process must be repeated. Precisely, due to this protocol – unlike Chile – Costa Rica only has 62 people recovered, and not 345, that by this date already completed their period of 14 days after receiving the positive diagnosis.

Under the assumption that no test should be repeated, which does not happen completely because there are indeterminate tests, quality controls, among many other variables, a confirmed person is subject to one test, a person discarded one test and a person recovered two tests, with a difference of 24 hours.

Of the number of confirmed samples indicated in the Inciensa certification, 510 are tests to certify recoveries and the remaining 345 are to confirm and reconfirm the diagnosis of suspected COVID-19 cases.

We reiterate that we will always do a transparent handling of information, as we have done since the first case confirmed by COVID-19,” the institution said.

Manipulation of information

The Inciensa certification was issued after a request for information claimed by Allan Arburola Valverde, who asked the Inciensa to detail how many samples (not people) by COVID-19 had been processed in that laboratory and what was the number of negative samples and positive (not people) obtained to date.

When replying the request, Inciensa’s general director, Lissette Navas Alvarado explicitly clarified to Arburola that there was a difference between people tested and samples processed. However, the Facebook profile that published the manipulated information ignored that detail just to generate controversy.