Imperfect Tests and The Effects of False Positives

The US government has been widely criticized for its failure to test as many of its citizens for COVID-19 infections as other countries. But is mass testing really as easy as it seems? This analysis of the false positive and false negative rates of tests, using published sensitivities and specificities for COVID-19 rt-PCR and antigen tests, shows that even tests with slightly less than perfect results can produce very large numbers of false positives.