Calls grow for US to rely on rapid tests to fight pandemic

Calls grow for US to rely on rapid tests to fight pandemic
Source: AP
2 Min Read

Daily US Times: When a Halloween party sparked a coronavirus outbreak at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, school officials conducted rapid tests on more than 1,000 students in a week, including many who did not have symptoms.

Although regulators do not approve such asymptomatic screening and the 15-minute tests are not as sensitive as the genetic one that can take days to yield results, the testing director at the historically Black college credits the approach with quickly containing the virus infections and allowing the campus to remain open.

Dr. Robert Doolittle, referring to the polymerase chain reaction test that is considered the gold standard by many doctors and Food and Drug Administration regulators, said: “Within the span of a week, we had crushed the spread. If we had had to stick with the PCR test, we would have been dead in the water.”

With President Joe Biden vowing to get elementary and middle school students back to their campus by spring and the country’s Covid-19 testing system still unable to keep pace with the spread of rthe disease, some experts see an opportunity to refocus US testing less on medical precision than on mass screening that they believe could save hundreds of thousands of lives.

As Covid-19 vaccines slowly roll out, they say the nation could suppress the virus outbreak and reopen much of the economy by easing regulatory hurdles to allow millions more rapid tests that may actually be better at identifying sick people when they are most contagious.

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