With two new therapeutics against COVID-19 hopefully coming online soon (the Merck and Pfizer pills
, specifically), an effective, fast-acting COVID-19 testing regime will be more critical than ever. Both medications (assuming approval) show remarkable efficacy against hospitalization and death from COVID, but they require starting the drug very close to symptom onset.
Unfortunately, although trillions of dollars in funds were passed & spent to fight COVID-19, our testing infrastructure barely improved since Summer 2020. Specifically, the United States has favored accuracy over immediacy by relying upon PCR tests over rapid (antigen) tests. The result is that only 3 FDA-approved over-the-counter rapid tests are available to the public. The US’s approach to testing stands in stark contrast to other Western nations. From the New York Times
In Britain, France and Germany, rapid testing is widely available and inexpensive, thanks to government subsidies. People can visit testing sites, like tents outside pharmacies in France or abandoned nightclubs in Germany
, and get tested at no charge. Many people also keep tests in their homes
and self-administer them.
In the U.S., by contrast, people usually take a different kind of test — known as a P.C.R. test — which must be processed by a laboratory and sometimes does not return results for more than 24 hours. During that time, a person with Covid can spread it to others.
PCR tests have their use, but given a virus so prone to spread, speed trumps accuracy almost every time. There’s still a chance to change our current path. Get it together, FDA!
Check out the full article below and let me know what you think.