NFL introduces point of care testing

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The memo generated by the league on Friday to all teams regarding changes to the coronavirus testing protocol contains a new development that could eventually go a long way toward enhancing the testing process: The NFL is now using “point of care” testing along with off-site testing for COVID-19.

Point of care is the technical term for testing that can be done without sending the sample to a lab. It’s the key to expediting the process and, eventually, knowing with sufficient certainty that anyone who enters a team facility or a stadium is negative then and there, without waiting for a result from a laboratory.

PFT has learned that point of care testing is a new addition to the broader testing protocol. The specific point of care testing that the NFL is using apparently has a much higher degree of accuracy than the league believed it had, as of just a week or so ago. Then, the league believed point of care testing had accuracy in the range of 80 to 85 percent. Now, the league believes (based on representations from the vendor) that it is 97-percent accurate.

That’s still not high enough for the league to use point of care testing on its own, but it’s a sign that point of care testing is getting closer and closer to where it can supplant the time-consuming process of collecting a sample and sending it away for so-called PCR analysis, which has an accuracy rate closer to 99 percent or higher.

Point of care testing will be the eventual game changer for the league. If the accuracy rate can approach or match the accuracy rate of off-site testing, teams can be more confident that they know, then and there, whether a player, coach, or essential staff member is positive or negative for the virus.

While that’s a separate issue from keeping players, coaches, and essential staff from catching the virus away from the facility, it’s a significant step in the direction of keeping anyone who has it from spreading it once they show up for work.

It is, ultimately, a tangible sign of the technical advances needed to enhance the chances of 256 regular-season games and 13 postseason games being played without significant interruption by an outbreak. Which means that the arrival of point of care testing is very good news for the prospects for the NFL’s 101st season.

10 responses to “NFL introduces point of care testing

  1. Awesome news. Hopefully us regular folk get that going soon too, but for now I’m happy to let those who entertain us have some increased assurances.

  2. How about we just end all this ridiculous crap and move on. It is pretty clear athletes, whether professional or college, don’t possess sufficient common sense, or more likely discipline, to function in a world where some level of personal responsibility is required. They didn’t have it before the “pandemic”, so why would anyone expect them to have it now. Just sayin’….

  3. Can’t wait until September 13th at noon. It’s going to be so enjoyable! Really is.🤣🤣🤣



  4. When have vendors ever misrepresented their product? If in reality it’s only 92% accurate then that means players will miss games and the NFL will be upset.

  5. Still a long way to go, but this is good news. The medical community has been shifting their stance on the point-of-care testing in recent weeks. Obviously the PCR lab test is more accurate, but the thought is if you’re in an environment where individuals are being repeatedly tested the positive cases are going to be picked up even with a lower rate of accuracy, and potentially quicker than they would while waiting 24+ hours for lab results.

    Players are still going to contract the virus, but these rapid tests could be big in preventing outbreaks within the facility and impacting a large number of players (like what we saw with the Marlins).

  6. The NFL still doesn’t get it. Point of care testing is still 80% accurate; it is nowhere close to 97%. In a hospital setting, the point of care testing is used more as a confirmatory test since the patient already is exhibiting COVID symptoms. Also, broad use of point of care testing will strain the overall testing scheme in that there are not enough kits to go around.

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