CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The common cold and COVID-19 can cause similar symptoms, including congestion, headache and chills. With that in mind, we got this question from a viewer, who asked is it true that the common cold can cause a positive COVID-19 test result?
Can the common cold cause a positive COVID-19 test result?
- Family physician, Dr. Marie-Elizabeth Ramas
- The Mayo Clinic
- The CDC
- And test manufacturer, BionexNow
Though the cold and COVID-19 can produce similar symptoms, the Mayo Clinic said the difference is COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, while the common cold is most often caused by rhinoviruses.
The COVID-19 tests are very specific and are sensitive to COVID-19 itself. According to the CDC, PCR tests and at-home tests will both tell you if you are infected with SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes COVID-19.
The PCR tests specifically identify the RNA sequences that comprise the genetic material of the virus. At-home tests, also known as rapid or antigen tests, are designed to detect proteins from the specific virus that causes COVID-19.
BionexNow produces at-home COVID-19 tests. The box specifically states it's authorized only for the detection of proteins from SARAS-CoV-2, not for any other virus or pathogens.
So we can verify that no, the common cold can not cause a positive COVID-19 test result.
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