Too Late for Wider CV Screening to Help, We Need Antibody Tests More

By April 2, 2020 Commentary

The esteemed Dr. Fauci said in a recent interview that expanded coronavirus testing to determine infected people and then track contacts, with the intention of quarantining those who are infected, could help ease the extreme mitigation measures sooner.   (Fauci Interview)   I beg to disagree with the esteemed doctor.  It is far too late for that.  According to Worldometers, the United States has had around 215,000 coronavirus cases, this means people with positive test results.  The COVID Tracking Project comes up with a similar number.  Due to the fact that testing has largely been limited to people with symptoms, everyone believes that the actual number of infected people is multiples of this number.  I think it is millions of people.  But let’s multiply it by 5 and say it is a million people.  Are you seriously going to try to track all the contacts of everyone of these people and test those contacts and if they were positive, trace and test their contacts and so on.   That is simply infeasible, the labor and resources to do that don’t exist.  If we had known when the Chinese government did, that this was a threat and begun limiting travel from China right away and immediately begun testing of infected people and their contacts, with associated quarantines for people with positive results, as South Korea did, then this might have worked.  The horse is out of the barn now, as they say.  Accept it, folks, the virus is or will be everywhere.

A far more important task now is to engage in very widespread antibody testing.  If we have accurate tests, they should be made available free to the entire population, starting with health care workers, first responders and others who have constant contact with the public.  This would allow us to know who has antibodies and can resume normal activities without risk of infection to themselves or others (please note my usual caveat that there is some uncertainty, probably small, about the effectiveness of antibodies to this virus), and would give comfort to those health care workers and others who are obviously at very high risk of infection.  It may also be that a larger percent of people than we realize had pre-existing antibodies effective against this virus strain.  We need to do this now, it should be a first priority.

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