FACT CHECK: Viral Post Claims An At-Home COVID-19 Test Turning Positive When Exposed To Water Shows The Coronavirus Is In Drinking Water

Hannah Hudnall | Fact Check Reporter

A post shared on Facebook claims a BinaxNOW rapid home COVID-19 test turning positive when exposed to water shows the coronavirus is in drinking water.

Verdict: False

COVID-19 has not been found in drinking water, according to public health agencies. Running water over rapid home COVID-19 tests can cause them to produce invalid results, as they are not meant to be used in such a manner.

Fact Check:

The image shows what looks like a positive BinaxNOW home COVID-19 test, with the Facebook user claiming in the caption that the test produced the positive result after being exposed to water. “Now y’all do the math,” the caption goes on to say. “This is why so many people getting sick so fast the whole time y’all thinking we giving it to each other ( which is still possible) but the bigger picture is they giving it to all us.”

The test result, however, is not due to the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, in drinking water, nor does it mean such testing kits are inaccurate. (RELATED: Does Hot Water With Lemon Kill Coronavirus?)

The BinaxNOW rapid antigen test is a lateral flow immunoassay meant to detect COVID-19 using samples swabbed from the lower nasal passage, according to the website of Abbott Laboratories, the company that produces the test. Pouring tap water on the test goes against the test’s instructions for use.

“BinaxNOW is not for use with water or any other foods or liquids,” an Abbott Laboratories spokesperson told Check Your Fact in an email. “When used as intended, it is a highly accurate test that is helping to detect COVID-19 and can significantly improve efforts to control transmission. Spreading misinformation with deliberate misuse of a medical product during a pandemic is misleading, irresponsible and dangerous to public health.”

“Other liquids have chemical properties which can cause a chemical reaction on the test strip, resulting in misleading or inaccurate results,” the spokesperson continued. “Failure to follow the instructions for the test procedure and interpretation of test results may adversely affect test performance and produce misleading or invalid results.”

A video making a similar claim about the Siemens Healthineers CLINITEST Rapid COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test has also been circulating online in recent days. In an email to Check Your Fact, a spokesperson for the company said: “The test is designed to identify COVID-19 from human nasal samples only. Using water or other fluids may generate different results (such as triggering a false positive) but the test is accurate when used as directed.”

SARS-CoV-2 “has not been detected in drinking water” and the typical water treatments that “use filtration and disinfection, such as those in most municipal drinking water systems, should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Sylvie Briand, the director of the Department of Global Infectious Hazard Preparedness department at the World Health Organization, said in a video that drinking water cannot transmit COVID-19.

Hannah Hudnall

Fact Check Reporter

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