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Your Health: Circadian rhythm and COVID tests

Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 5:33 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. -- With both influenza and COVID hitting during the winter months, some are referring to it as a “twindemic.”

It’s crucial to get an accurate COVID test.

Jan. 10, 2022: Coronavirus Report: Michigan reports 44,524 cases, 56 deaths over the past three days

New research suggests the time of day you take your COVID test might play a factor in the results.

Most of us have experienced it once or even multiple times over the course of the pandemic. Accurate test results allow us to know what safety precautions to take when out in public.

“We may be getting a lot of false negative results,” said Ben Stobbe, Assistant Vice Chancellor for EXCEL Clinical Stimulation.

According to research by Vanderbilt University, the time of day you take your test may play a role in how accurate your results are. The researchers found COVID test results were up to two times as likely to have an accurate positive test result if they tested in the middle of the day compared to the night.

That’s because COVID-19 shedding, or when infected cells release infectious virus particles into the blood and mucus appear to be more active in the middle of the day due to the body’s natural Circadian rhythm. The research found that COVID viral loads tend to be lower after 8 p.m., so a COVID test after that time can lead to inaccurate results, which can have negative consequences.

“A false negative out in the community could allow somebody to go out and be a little bit more free,” Stobbe said.”

They might not take the proper precautions to keep COVID from spreading.

Coronavirus isn’t the only virus impacted by a host’s Circadian rhythm. Past researchers have found other viruses and bacterial infections -- such as Malaria, Zika and Hepatitis C -- can be greatly impacted by the body’s internal clock.

More Your Health stories: New blood test could be a game-changer in COVID treatments

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