Every American should be tested for COVID-19 once a week – Twin Cities

2020-11-25 04:04:21 –

Americans are still doing the COVID-19 test incorrectly. The kind of testing and contact tracing that scientists advocated in the spring to fight the virus isn’t working in the United States and it’s given startup Lucira Health Inc. Not improved by the new $ 50 home test conducted by the Food and Drug Administration last week.

This is because the biological habits of the disease mean that current testing systems miss most of the cases during the most contagious period. But another strategy will catch them. And we already have the technology to do that.

Once inside the body, COVID-19 will be low for several days and then suddenly accelerate. The incubation period of the virus is about 5 days, and in some cases 14 days, and it is well known that symptoms appear. What is less well known is that the virus is invisible to most tests during most of its “quiet” stages. People are at greatest risk of getting the disease days before and after the onset of symptoms. This is the stage that needs to be captured in the test.

In order to fight a pandemic in the test, you need to test people at least once a week. In short, we need tests that are quick, easy, cheap, and can be distributed nationwide. The Lucira Health test is not that test, says Harvard epidemiologist Michael Mina. It’s too expensive, doesn’t scale up for large-scale, regular use, and requires a doctor’s prescription.

Inexpensive antigen tests already developed by scientists can be used. It is as easy to administer as a pregnancy test and is sensitive enough to give a positive result when it is close to the peak of infectivity but asymptomatic. They can provide frequent tests that end the pandemic.

A more promising technique is the use of wearable devices that have been shown to detect heart rate changes that indicate infection before symptoms begin. They can even show asymptomatic infections. I wrote about this in June, and last week I got even better results in Nature Immunology. The inventor of the system, Michael Snyder of Stanford University, said last spring that the device could be manufactured for just a few dollars and could continue to function for months, even cheaper than antigen testing.

Instead, we have a terrible, confusing and misleading system. Last week, people waited for hours in long lines hoping to take the tests they wanted to meet their loved ones, some of them older and vulnerable, for Thanksgiving.

“Getting a PCR test today doesn’t improve Thanksgiving safety,” Mina of Harvard University said at a media event eight days before her vacation.

Everyone is at risk of false negatives early in the incubation period. Some people have cleared the infection and can no longer send it. For them, the test gives false positives. Even those who are currently contagious and positive this week are still unlikely to be infectious next week, Mina says.

Mina falsely claims that the New York Times falsely claims that existing scalable and inexpensive tests are only 30% sensitive. He says the reporter used the wrong denominator. In the test, no one has passed the infection period. You are not the one who is still shedding the virus and needs to be quarantined.

Critics also say the test has not been extensively tested in asymptomatic people, which is true. However, there is compelling evidence that frequent use of cheap tests can catch enough infected people to contain the virus.

This is what the authorities are doing in Slovakia. In Slovakia, a weekly mass-test program has already reversed the exponential spread of the virus. The program is more obligatory than it is accepted in the United States, but here Mina says he can create hundreds of millions of cheaper tests and distribute 20 to US homes at a time. University campuses in many locations have also been successful in regular student screening tests twice a week.

One of the key points: Testing can reduce overall communication, but it is not accurate enough to give an individual a free pass to socialize immediately. People will still want to wear masks in grocery stores to avoid the mixture of bacterial spreads seen at the infamous White House event in September. When you visit your 88-year-old mom, you should wear a mask or refrain from seeing her a little longer.

However, capturing and quarantining the majority of infected people reduces the pandemic, allowing us all to return to a more normal life within a few weeks.

Instead, the United States is doubling its non-functioning strategy, Mina says. What we need is a viable strategy. “People walking down the street aren’t infected for two hours or stay home for 14 days.”

Muge Cevik, a British infectious disease doctor, has examined dozens of contact tracing studies, not just convenience, to show who is at greatest risk. Poor people, people with public jobs, people with multiple jobs and people in crowded housing. The majority of them cannot afford to self-isolate at the request of contact tracers.

Frequent testing detects new cases much faster than contact tracing and reduces unnecessary quarantine of uninfected contacts, but financial remedies so that infected people can be quarantined without. Must be combined with the system facing financial collapse.

“I’m frustrated when I see people asking for the same thing over and over … I see it not working,” says Harvard Mina. All you have to do is look at Massachusetts, where people are following the rules, the governor has enacted strict indoor and outdoor mask obligations, and the state is building the country’s top contact tracing program. “There is still exponential growth here and there are a huge number of cases,” he says.

It’s time to admit that the current approach isn’t working. The $ 50 prescription home test deployment isn’t going to fix that. In the months before the vaccine was widely distributed, cheap wearables and large-scale testing may turn the tide, along with financial support to help infected people stay home. It really follows science.

Fay Fromm is a Bloomberg Opinion Columnist. She has contributed to Economists, , The Washington Post, Psychology Today, Science and other publications. She holds a degree in geophysics from the California Institute of Technology.

Every American should be tested for COVID-19 once a week – Twin Cities Source link Every American should be tested for COVID-19 once a week – Twin Cities

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