University launching re-testing program to validate asymptomatic positive tests

Vanderbilt University is launching a new re-testing program for members of its community who receive a positive COVID-19 PCR test but are without symptoms. Beginning this week, undergraduate students who are tested in the university’s weekly mandatory testing programs and other community members participating in Vanderbilt’s periodic testing who meet defined criteria will be retested to confirm their initial positive test result. Only those asymptomatic campus community members who are tested through Vault and student-athletes participating in the SEC athletic testing program (administered by third-party medical testing provider PAE) are eligible for the re-testing program. Individuals tested through other programs or providers are ineligible.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, the university has actively worked to adapt and adjust its COVID-19 policies as new information and resources become available,” said Eric Kopstain, vice chancellor for administration. “The university is pleased to be able to launch this re-testing program, which is made possible by the new availability of a rapid-cycle re-test protocol through testing company Premier Medical Group (PMG).

“While the data suggests that false positives are rare, they can occur on occasion,” Kopstain added. “The university wants to mitigate against that possibility and to validate asymptomatic positive Vault test results individuals receive. This new option will also help the university rapidly address inconclusive Vault test results that may potentially occur.”

For all Vault tests administered starting Monday, Oct. 12, students, faculty, postdocs and staff who are asymptomatic and receive a Vault or PAE positive test result will immediately go into isolation, following existing protocols. Under the new system, there will be up to three additional opportunities to re-test. Any additional positive test during this re-testing phase, or the onset of symptoms, will be considered a confirmation of the original test and individuals will remain in isolation. An individual who remains asymptomatic and receives three consecutive negative PMG test results after their initial Vault or PAE positive will be released from isolation. The individual will then return to weekly mandatory testing if an undergraduate student, or to periodic testing if another member of the campus community. Any individuals who were close contacts to a case confirmed as a false positive will be released from quarantine.

For more information, visit the FAQs on Vanderbilt’s Return to Campus website.