Covid test question for the medical minded

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Brad M

Jan 16, 2017
I heard a bit on the radio last week about how Covid tests were processed and I’m a bit confused. The guy reporting stated that the material taken from the test swabs was “replicated “ a number of times which basically doubled the amount of Covid material with each replication. This would increase the tiny amount of Covid (Covid DNA?) to a level that could be detected. I mostly get that and it makes sense. But he said that there is no “standard” number of replications that all test facilities use. Thirty replications was the recommended number from some scientific body but different testing facilities were using anywhere between 30 and 50 replications. Since the Covid material doubles with each replication, that seems like a huge difference that could lead to unreliable results.
I guess I naively thought every state was testing the exact same way and every country was testing the same way. And I thought every testing facility was using the same threshold level to decide a positive vs negative result. If not, how can the numbers we are seeing from around the world truly be compared?