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Iowa will now include antigen test results in COVID-19 data despite tests being less accurate

State officials said PCR tests are more accurate but antigen test results typically come back quicker.

Iowa will add more test types in the cumulative data it reports out about the novel coronavirus. 

Gov. Kim Reynolds said Thursday during a press conference they've started to see an increase in antigen testing in the state. 

"As testing becomes more widespread and common, antigen testing will be a growing portion of the overall testing in Iowa," Reynolds said. "So this change will enable us to capture that data that we're reporting to Iowans."

An antigen test is one of two FDA approved tests that can detect if COVID-19 is present in a person's body. The other is a PCR test. 

PCR tests are more accurate but antigen test results typically come back quicker. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, positive antigen results are accurate most of the time, but there is a higher chance of false negatives. 

That means people that have the virus could test negative. 

The shift has impacted state data

  • Overall positivity rate: 0.2% increase
  • 14-day moving average: 0.1% increase
  • 48 counties will have no increase or will see a decrease in their 14-day moving average
  • 50 counties will see an increase of 0.1%-1.1% in their 14-day percent positivity rate
  • Van Buren County will see an increase in 5% in their 14-day percent positivity rate

The above data was provided by State Medical Director Dr. Caitlin Pedati at a press conference Thursday.

To date, Dr. Pedati said there have been 10,000 antigen tests reported to the state of Iowa. 1,000 of those tests came back positive. 

Pedati said 8,000 antigen test results were reported in the past 10-12 days, which is why they've decided to start including the results in Iowa's cumulative data. 

According to Pew Charitable Trusts, only six other states account for antigen testing happening in their state. 

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