A new approach to Covid-19 testing: Rapid Tests

How to test every American for Covid-19 everyday What’s a rapid test? Existing technology using paper strips allows for contagious-COVID testing that is rapid and inexpensive. Research shows that if done properly, these testing protocols could drive down infections close to zero. Millions of these tests can easily be manufactured and distributed. At as low as $1 per test, you can take a test every day. Tests could be administered at the entrance to schools and offices, and some could be taken at home.

Rapid tests for contagiousness are currently not approved for Covid-19 testing, since they do not meet overly strict sensitivity requirements.Some people point out that rapid tests are less sensitive than PCR tests, meaning that they may sometimes fail to detect when the virus is present. Rapid tests are however very sensitive when it matters most — when your viral load is high enough that you are contagious. This, combined with their speed and ease of use, makes them ideal for routine public health screening. They’re also great for private at-home use, similar to a pregnancy test.

Research from Harvard and Yale shows that:
Turnaround time is far more important than sensitivity.
Frequency of testing is far more important than sensitivity.
A testing protocol with rapid tests can keep infections close to zero, even if the tests are less sensitive. A slower protocol cannot. The slower protocol PCR tests detect ultra-low levels of viral RNA that can exist in your system for days or weeks after you have stopped being contagious. While this is useful for clinical diagnosis, it is not useful for public health screening. More importantly, PCR tests can take several days to return results, which means that contagious people will get their results after it is too late. Rapid tests solve these problems. Much more in the link above including a highly informative article published in The Atlantic: The Plan That Could Give Us Our Lives Back and sample letters to send your governor and congressional representatives.

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