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No, the common cold cannot cause a positive COVID-19 test

Experts say PCR tests specifically identify the RNA sequences that comprise the genetic material of the virus.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The common cold and COVID-19 can cause similar symptoms, including congestion, headache and chills. With that in mind, we got this question from a viewer, who asked is it true that the common cold can cause a positive COVID-19 test result?

THE QUESTION:

Can the common cold cause a positive COVID-19 test result?

OUR SOURCES:

THE ANSWER:

This is false.

Though the cold and COVID-19 can produce similar symptoms, the Mayo Clinic said the difference is COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, while the common cold is most often caused by rhinoviruses.

The COVID-19 tests are very specific and are sensitive to COVID-19 itself. According to the CDC, PCR tests and at-home tests will both tell you if you are infected with SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes COVID-19.

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The PCR tests specifically identify the RNA sequences that comprise the genetic material of the virus. At-home tests, also known as rapid or antigen tests, are designed to detect proteins from the specific virus that causes COVID-19.

BionexNow produces at-home COVID-19 tests. The box specifically states it's authorized only for the detection of proteins from SARAS-CoV-2, not for any other virus or pathogens.

So we can verify that no, the common cold can not cause a positive COVID-19 test result.

 Contact Meghan Bragg at mbragg@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. 

VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text us at 704-329-3600 or visit VERIFY.

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