UPMC Study Says Negative Coronavirus Test Will Most Likely Not Retest As Positive

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — We all know the issues surrounding coronavirus tests and the time it takes to get results. But what happens to people after that first positive or negative test result?

KDKA’s Meghan Schiller talked to the lead author on UPMC’s coronavirus retesting research, Dr. Amy Kennedy.

“We really just wanted to use that wealth of data and see if we could answer some questions about really who we’re retesting,” said Dr. Kennedy.

She tells KDKA that retesting is actually uncommon.

“Over 30,000 individuals during our two-month time frame from March to May were tested for COVID-19 and only about 500 were retested,” Dr. Kennedy said.

UPMC looked at those 30,000 tests and repeated the tests, at least once, for 485 people. Of the 418 patients who first tested negative, 96.4 percent retested as negative. A good sign, Dr. Kennedy points out.


“For people who are testing negative, you should be fairly reassured that negative test means you don’t have COVID,” Dr. Kennedy said.

Of the original 74 positive patients, half of them stayed positive for about 21 days and the other half tested negative.

“What we found is that when individuals did test positive, they stayed positive for about an average of three weeks,” said Dr. Kennedy.

Just 3.6 percent of the nearly 500 people retested, or 15 people, went from negative on the initial test to positive on the next test. The study did not include any tracking as to how those 15 people contracted the virus.