2558: Rapid Test Results

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Rapid Test Results
A solid red area with two white lines means that you have been infected with the anti-coronavirus, COVID+19, which will cure anyone you have close contact with.
Title text: A solid red area with two white lines means that you have been infected with the anti-coronavirus, COVID+19, which will cure anyone you have close contact with.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: RAPIDLY created by a BOT with an old inconsistent cough, low temperature and an increased ability to taste food, that is NOT a reference to comic 2279- Please change this comment when editing this page. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.
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This comic is a joke about COVID-19 rapid lateral flow test results. These devices are used in many countries for individuals to test their own nasal and oropharynx fluid for evidence of covid-19 virus to detect asymptomatic infection. These tests have two indicator strips - a test line for covid-19 and a control line to check the device is working correctly. Where a control line is not present, the test should be ignored and repeated.

The first 2 answers are the standard indicators for a negative and positive result, but Randall takes this to absurdity[citation needed].

Result Explanation
Control line only Negative

As for all such actual tests, the procedure has been activated, but only the Control result is complete. Without this Control line (which always shows after proper use), a used tester with a negative Test result would be indistinguishable from one not actually tested with, giving doubt or misdirection about the result; and possibly inviting re-use, with dubious consequences.

Control and test line Positive

This clearly shows the (un)desired test result, whether that is for the likes of pregnancy (until comparatively recently the occasion most familar for requiring this form of test) or the indicators of a specific infection.

2 wavy lines resembling the approximately equal sign Approximately positive

While it would be possible to make the test produce wavy line(s) by default, and some versions 'activate' more complex patterns such as tick-marks or wording, the waviness or other patternation would not normally be contingent upon the testing state it must reveal, and ambiguity of detection would most result in a fainter Test line (which perhaps should be taken as Positive until shown otherwise).

2 lines closer together than usual College ruled refers to how college ruled notebooks in the United States have narrower spacing between the lines.

Though, again, the test could be designed to reveal this pattern, there is no simple way to make this a result-indicator of any qualitative or quantitative result. It also remains more desirable to maintain an easily-identifiable separation between lines and not risk the Test and Control lines bleeding together into one.

Four lines at varying lengths Mimics the standard image for a strong mobile (or cellular in the United States) phone signal.

There are tests which give multiple 'indicator test strips' for progressively greater/lesser sensitivity, perhaps to identify concentrations, or other qualitative differences like a 'fingerprint' of multiple targetable reagents, but this is not at all useful for a solid Yes/No question such as the one this scenario is supposed to be for.

2 lines on a background of radiating lines The 6th "result" is a reference to an optical illusion called the Hering illusion, where two parallel lines appear to bend inward.

Whether the radial lines can (or should) be designed into the test has no bearing upon the core test, and probably should not confuse the identification of what are supposed to be one/two clear straight lines.

Multiple lines in the shape of a scary stick figure In the found-footage movie The Blair Witch Project stick figures shaped like this indicated that the Blair Witch was near.

The test probably[citation needed] does not have any useful method for revealing the proximity of witchcraft, unless testably indicated within the sample material itself.

Three lines The final one is a reference to hamburger buttons, an icon that is widely used on websites to reveal a menu.

As a 'read-only' display of results, there is no potential for further interaction by tapping the indicator material, and this may even spoil the state of the proof it gives.

The title text is likely a reference to antimatter, which in reality mutually annihilates when coming into contact with regular matter. Here Randall postulates that there must be an equivalent but opposite virus to Covid-19 which he names Covid+19; which annihilates covid-19.


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As a Brit, I had to go away look up College Ruled, which I thought might be more exotic than it actually turns out to be, but a nice set on the whole. Someone is doubtless on top of the Explanation editing already (despite being unusually early, on the clock, as published!) so I'll let them have the fun. 16:59, 22 December 2021 (UTC)

As a fellow Brit, I share your pain at these revolting colonials mangling our mother tongue. Why not just call it "narrow ruled" like us? Kev (talk) 19:23, 22 December 2021 (UTC)
As an American, I can say that the reason that medium (or "college") ruled paper is not known as "narrow ruled" is because they are two different things. College ruled paper had lines spaced 9/32" (~7.1 mm) apart. Narrow ruled paper has those lines only 1/4" (6.35 mm) apart. -- 19:53, 22 December 2021 (UTC)
Narrower, or less narrow, you can have better descriptions of line separation than "college". Like picas or other measurements (fractuons of inches or metric, as now given).
My first thought was that "College Ruled" was an inconstant ruling (e.g. alternating wide and narrow spacings, perhaps for handwriting guides to appropriately constrain ascender and descender strokes) or some variation akin to 'blank' sheet-music paper with staves*. If it's just comparatively narrower (than..? ...all lined paper that is wider-spaced?) then it was not obvious without knowing the 'local' naming convention.
Whatever the standards we have here (I'm sure it's measurement-based, or possibly how many lines the sheets have crammed onto them) the presence or absence of a left-hand margin was the obvious big difference at some point between Primary/Secondary ('school') education and Tertiary ('college'). I think when young we had to rule our own margins, then at some point the books became preruled, but maybe it wasn't that way at all. By university, you just bought a pad of whatever paper you wanted/was on sale, though, for everything but lab-books. ;)
(* - One variation of that we had in school was alternating 'normal' exercise-book lining with stave-marked paper, but I only had that in music classes where (because it was heavy on 'foundation' history of music stuff) we hardly did anything on the stave-ruled paper and instead were committed to writing out dictations of how monks developed notations to codify their religious chantings, etc, etc. It was not a very memorable class, for any of the good reasons you'd hope, but the 'special exercise books' (as also the mathematics ones with one page standard-lined, the next graph-papered, though the latter were at least usefully used more, and not just for doodling!) were one of the things I can still recall after 40-or-more years...) 20:49, 22 December 2021 (UTC)

I thought the joke in the title text was that while COVID-19 infects nearby people, COVID+19 does the opposite, uninfecting people. If it annihilates COVID-19 like antimatter, that will release enormous amounts of energy, likely destroying the people involved. If you're disintegrated, it's of little help that you've been "cured". Barmar (talk) 20:41, 22 December 2021 (UTC)

Hmmm ... infected person is supposed to have up to 100 billion of virions ... that's still less than 0.1mg ... but that would be about 9GJ or 2 ton of TNT ... yeah, I don't think it would matter they are cured. -- Hkmaly (talk) 22:34, 22 December 2021 (UTC)
2 tons of TNT easily explain the "curing everybody in close contact", though 08:45, 23 December 2021 (UTC)

Would Covid+19 maybe have a positive Effect on health, because it is positive instead of negative? And would a Covid+-0 be neutral? In any case it is not stated that it has a negative effect or that it gets annihilated when meeting Covid-19, so I changed the last paragraph a bit. -- (talk) 08:27, 23 December 2021 (UTC)

Jeez, why is Randall so afraid to say "coronavirus"? If I didn't read the last line I would have thought this was about pregnancy tests! I've never seen a covid test before...- 09:49, 23 December 2021 (UTC)

a) Subtle humour that creeps up on you? (N.B., the following points suggest not, but YMMV.)
b) Didn't think it necessary. I've not seen a Covid LFT, either, but it seemed obvious from topicality, and if the last line would have been riffing on pregnancy I'd have been even more surprised...
b).i.: Actually, if it had been a pregnancy-tester joke, I'd expect it to be a sort of "conception reveal party" moment, and maybe congratulating Randall and his partner!
c) He actually does say Covid (more than he ever did in the infection-to-stop-infection comic!) and I don't think he's scared of saying it, but perhaps at some level (though he's probably failing to do this) he's just not wanting to BE IN THE FACE of some people who can't handle it.
c).i.: Though not making comics even vaguely related to viruses or testing would be the solution to that. Which is clearly not his chosen path as he still is pushing what some (not me!) would call a blue-pill agenda.
...it's all eye-of-the-beholder. I've had other comics bewilder me (or at least I wandered off down the wrong garden-path at first), and looks like that happened to you. Congratulations, you're (presumably) only human! 10:45, 23 December 2021 (UTC)
Apart from the title text, this comic actually could apply equally to pregnancy tests (up until now the most commonly available type of lateral flow test kit) or any other single-reaction lateral flow test kit. I presume CoVID rapid antigen test kits are in the news where Randall is, because of the announcement that they would soon be made available free of charge in the US, on the day the comic was published (Citation needed). In the future when they fall out of circulation or other types of tests become more common, the joke will still stand. 12:35, 23 December 2021 (UTC) edit: and I missed the fact that the last panel actually has the word COVID. Ahh well. 12:49, 23 December 2021 (UTC)
First of all so many comics have been about covid-19 (this was no. 87 and the second this week, hope we get a corona free x-mas comic tomorrow!). Secondly the word Covid is used in the main comic, not just the title text, just as the original poster says: "Click to expand COVID menu". So no issue for Randall to mention Corona/covid. He just did not mention it specifically in the previous. --Kynde (talk) 18:22, 23 December 2021 (UTC)
Yes the image is more familiar from pregnancy tests, but the repeated title says "Rapid Test". Around here that's what we call the at-home Covid tests that a LOT of people are learning to use right now before their holiday travel. It's in contrast with PCR tests, which take hours to days and require special laboratory equipment. 22:43, 23 December 2021 (UTC)

Missing test results

Am I the only one, who is missing at least two more test results? Like:

  • ≠ not positive
  • ± positive and negative

-- 11:06, 23 December 2021 (UTC)

I concur, maybe expand to

  • Constructive/Deconstructive interference from the approximately positive results
  • Taking a rapid test 14 hours after submission of a college module provides a digital read out of your grade
  • White Lines (Don't Don't Do It) plays when you move within 2 metres of a covid-infected individual
  • Blurred Lines plays when an antivaxxer gets a vaccine Kev (talk) 21:40, 23 December 2021 (UTC)

The third panel refers to the mathematical symbol for "approximately" (≈). The long-winded explanation in the table misses the point. -- (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

The third panel is literally written up (first column) as "2 wavy lines resembling the approximately equal sign" (with wikilink). The long-windedness that follows in the third column is over-analysing, maybe, but the 'core' point isn't missed at all. You are of course free to edit, so long as you're aware that so are others.
PS, it is polite to sign Talk-page additions (with the four tildes, or two dashes and four tildes if clicking the right button above)) when adding a comment. HTH, HAND. 15:52, 24 December 2021 (UTC)