Sweden raises alarm after 3,700 people test false positive for coronavirus

Thousands of people in Sweden will be contacted by health authorities in the coming days after they received false positives on coronavirus self-tests that have been used in countries around the world.

Sweden raises alarm after 3,700 people test false positive for coronavirus
File photo of coronavirus blood samples not linked to the article. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

The inaccuracy was discovered in two laboratories in Sweden, which carried out quality control tests and found that around 3,700 people had received what the Public Health Agency described as “likely false positives”.

“Two Swedish laboratories have discovered deficiencies in a CE-marked so-called test kit that was used to show if you have an ongoing Covid-19 infection. Due to the error, the test method has not been able to distinguish between low levels of Covid-19 virus and negative samples,” said the Public Health Agency in a statement.

It added that it had reported the self-test kits, which it said had been exported from China to several countries around the world, to other European health authorities as well as the World Health Organisation.

Inaccurate test results were discovered in nine Swedish regions and date back to March: Stockholm, Västra Götaland, Gävleborg, Västerbotten, Västmanland, Dalarna, Västernorrland, Sörmland and Blekinge.

Everyone who is affected by the false test results will be contacted by Thursday at the latest and will be offered a free antibody test by regional healthcare services.

The Public Health Agency said people affected had mainly had mild symptoms or no noticeable symptoms at the time of testing. All tests analysed in the two laboratories after August 15th are accurate, it added.

The false test results mean that Sweden's statistics of people who have tested positive for coronavirus have to be amended, but the Public Health Agency described the impact as “marginal” on the overall data.

As of Tuesday, 86,891 people had tested positive for the coronavirus in Sweden.

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New Covid-19 wave in Sweden ‘to peak at end of September’

Sweden's Public Health Agency has warned of a new autumn wave of Covid-19 which it expects to peak at the end of September.

New Covid-19 wave in Sweden 'to peak at end of September'

According to both of the two new scenarios published by the agency on Monday, infection rates are set to rise steadily over the next month, something the agency said was due to a falling immunity in the population and greater contact between people as they return to schools and workplaces after the summer. 

“It is difficult to say how high the peak will be, but it is unlikely that it will reach the same levels as in January and February,” the agency’s unit chief Sara Byfors said in a press release. “The most important thing is that people in risk groups and those who are 65 years old and above get vaccinated with a booster dose in the autumn to reduce the risk of serious illness and death.” 

Under Scenario 0, the amount of contact between people stays at current levels, leading to a peak in reported Covid-19 cases at around 5,000 a day. In Scenario 1, contact between people increases by about 10 percent from the middle of August, leading to a higher peak of about 7,000 reported cases a day. 

The agency said that employers should be prepared for many staff to be off sick simultaneously at points over the next month, but said in its release that it did not judge the situation to be sufficiently serious to require either it or the government to impose additional infection control measures. 

It was important, however, it said, that those managing health and elderly care continued to test those with symptoms and to track the chain of infections, that people go and get the booster doses when they are supposed to have under the vaccination programme, and that those who have symptoms of Covid-19 stay home.