Virologist maps out how White House press secretary has been putting people at risk for days
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has been putting lives at risk since her exposure to the coronavirus last week, a virologist explained in an extensive Twitter thread.
McEnany, who has been testing herself since Thursday, finally tested positive Monday upon arriving at the White House. Despite extensive exposure to the virus, McEnany worked at the White House over the weekend, saying that she is considered "essential" and came up "negative" multiple times. So, she was considered "safe."
Experts explain that it's important to self-quarantine for 14 days after exposure because it's unknown at what point in the process the virus takes hold and can continue to infect others.
Post-doc virologist K. Taylor, Ph.D, M.S. explained as much in a thread where she noted, "we do not yet know what the infectious dose (how many virus particles you need to become infected) is so I'm going to use hypothetical numbers for the sake of this explanation."
She said that the most common test is the PCR test, which is the nasal swab, can detect the virus RNA "up to a certain threshold. The test the White House has been using is the rapid test which detects virus proteins. Both meant to be surrogate for infection."
So, if the dose of the virus was, say 10, it means you need 10 virus particles to become infected.
"Let's say PCR requires a minimum of 1,000 particles to be detected and antigen test requires 1.5k," she said, noting that these numbers are arbitrary and only being used to explain how the virus is detected.
"On day 0 when I contract SARS-CoV2 there are 10 particles so I would not test positive," she explained. "Let's say for every 1 particle it produce[s] 5 more particles every 24 hours that means I wouldn't be at detectable levels until day 3 for PCR and day 5 for antigen test."
That would mean that McEnany, Hope Hicks, even President Donald Trump could have the virus but still be testing negative. It's also why after being exposed, doctors are testing former Vice President Joe Biden multiple times.
"Let's also say that I start shedding at 600 virus particles. That means at some point on day 2 I start shedding virus and being able to infect other people," Dr. Taylor continued. "I'm asymptomatic until I have 4K particles (reminder, made up numbers). So I'm walking around asymptotic, shedding virus and not wearing a mask because I tested negative day 1 and day 2. This is why a negative test is only good for one day."
She noted it's also why people need to be wearing masks despite being tested. Her example also doesn't even take into account the antigen test, which can be inaccurate and isn't meant to be used by asymptomatic people.
"In real life, we know the incubation period can be 2-12 days," she closed. "So until you get to the last day with a negative test you can still be infected. This quarantine and wear a mask if you have been exposed.
It's also why Biden still isn't in the clear, despite his three negative tests. Indeed, it's also why anyone who attended the Rose Garden super-spreader event at the White House should be tested frequently and why they should all have been wearing masks, she explained.