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Can Oranges Test Positive for COVID-19?

Coronavirus myths are getting out of hand. Have you heard the myth that COVID-19 is a biological weapon? There’s no evidence to support that theory. Although it’s sad that 3 million have died due to contracting the disease, that’s just 0.03 per cent of the 7.9 billion people who live on the earth. Who’d develop a bioweapon to kill off such a relatively small number? Some are a little easier to swallow, like the idea that COVID-19 dies in the heat or that once you’ve had it, you’re immune to it. Both are false. The oddest myth we’ve come across is the one we’re going to explore in greater detail – the idea that oranges can test positive for COVID is the most bizarre.

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Origin

The question of whether or not oranges can test positive for COVID isn’t us attempting to find out if the fruit can contract COVID-19. Of course, it can’t, but even the silliest myth has to come from somewhere. This isn’t just an idea off the top of someone’s head. It wouldn’t have gained tractions from social media posts or blogs. You might have been bored enough to catch the YouTube videos which appear to show a kiwi fruit testing positive for COVID. Did you see the video showing a glass of Coke testing positive? That’s the sort of thing that’s got this myth started.

Inaccurate

If the aim of these videos is to show the tests are inaccurate, they’ve missed the point. You can’t take a product designed for humans and use it on anything else. In an interview with Full Fact, Dr Alexander Edwards, associate professor in Biomedical Technology at the University of Reading, confirmed this: ‘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.’

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Acidic

It looks to us like the acidic nature of Coca-Cola is to blame for the false-positive in that test. Since coronavirus can’t spread into our food, there’s really no point in running that test. Perhaps the pointlessness of the videos has sparked some viewers to imagine and made them perpetuate this myth that certain fruits can contract the disease. We are not here to spread further false information. Let’s be clear – this is all a load of nonsense.

What about oranges?

Like the Coke, they’re very acidic. That’s why the test returned a positive. We have Facebook to thank for this silly story. Lateral flow testing is highly unlikely to produce a false positive when used correctly. In the UK, our government uses Innova rapid tests that have been trialled in real-world and laboratory settings. Whether it’s tested in a lab or a hospital, it correctly identified 99.68 per cent of negative samples. They very rarely test false positives. When tested, the Innova test correctly identified 76.8 per cent of positive samples. It missed 75 out of 323.

Rapid tests

The people who started this story weren’t trying to lift the lid on any issues with the rapid tests we use. They were probably just having a laugh. The fact is that rapid testing isn’t that great. We all know that. Experts believe the benefits of quickly identifying infected people are not outweighed by the risk of falsely reassuring those who actually have the disease. Ultimately, the humble orange isn’t helping anyone other than the vloggers who make money every time one of us clicks the link and watches the video.

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