False Negatives and Fake Negatives – Foes Requiring New Solutions

Flynn Walker
January 19, 2021
In the wake of new strains rearing out of an ever-growing pandemic, the NZ Government has acknowledged that the country’s COVID-free status continues to be in a delicate state. Extensive reviews of border security are underway to ensure the regime is “robust, verifiable, and trustworthy” but it’s becoming clear to many of us that only using the same tools of yesteryear will not keep the mutating virus at bay, nor address the growing threat of forged test results.

The mandatory requirement for individuals from the US and the UK to undertake pre-departure screening for infection before traveling to NZ is one approach. However, due to high risk of false negatives relating to infection testing, this tool won’t be enough to secure our border against an outbreak. As an example, European countries that required only a negative COVID-19 test result for unrestricted entry saw exponential spikes in their daily case numbers and many of these countries, such as Greece and Germany, have since started strict lockdowns to curb this effect. Requiring COVID-free test results from UK arrivals, commencing on 15th Jan, is very unlikely to put a stop to continued entry of any new strain into NZ.

The NZ Government has also acknowledged that the incentive will be high for forged COVID-free test results. We’ve seen evidence of this already, most notably when a gang in France was recently arrested for selling fake negative PCR tests to departing travellers at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport. As certification of vaccination is anticipated to become required for international travel, the existence of fraudulent vaccine certificates is inevitable. Additional testing at the border will be critical, firstly to ensure a traveller has truly been vaccinated and secondly that it has worked.

Clearly border security needs new solutions to overcome the pandemic’s ongoing challenges. With the virus contained, New Zealand is in a unique position to think ahead and adopt innovative new tools that lead the rest of the world in the right direction.

One of these tools is Quantitative Immunity Testing (QIT), a gold standard for verifying a person’s immunity to COVID-19. Overcoming the hurdles of false negatives and forgery, QIT can be deployed at the border to ensure individuals can arrive and safely move around our country without risking the health of our communities. QIT technology provides us the opportunity to improve our border security while leading the recovery of international travel.

Proven solutions such as QIT aren’t just a nice to have, to enable the safe reopening of our borders and support the industries reliant on travel, they’re a must have.

Read more about NZ’s current border security status here: Covid 19 coronavirus: NZ still exposed to mutant strain, despite tightened border – NZ Herald