How Many People Is America Testing for the Coronavirus?

Atlas, who has no background in infectious illness, has advocated for a so-called herd-immunity strategy, asserting that the federal authorities ought to defend solely the aged and the most susceptible from COVID-19. This could result in many extra American deaths—Sweden, which pursued the same coverage, has the next case-fatality fee than the United States, the European Union common, Iran, and greater than 100 different nations, according to data from Johns Hopkins University—and it may not even work. However extra vital, herd immunity has nothing to do with testing. There isn’t a cause that advocates of the herd-immunity strategy ought to oppose testing, until their objective is to let an outbreak spiral past management earlier than anybody notices, Andersen mentioned. “In the event you don’t take a look at [asymptomatic people], you might have a decrease reported variety of instances, however you find yourself with extra instances general. And you find yourself with extra deaths and extra hospitalizations, which you’ll’t conceal, since you lose management of the virus.”

The change to the CDC steering isn’t the solely disruption of the testing panorama. In the previous month, docs and hospitals have began to make use of sooner however much less delicate exams to look for the coronavirus. In contrast to the gold-standard PCR exams, which detect genetic materials from the virus, these exams look for the presence of chemical compounds, known as antigens, that make up the virus. As we’ve written, these antigen exams shall be a vital software in defeating the pandemic, as a result of they may let workplaces, nursing properties, and different semipublic locations establish contagious however asymptomatic folks earlier than they unfold the virus.

We consider that darkish testing is occurring, as a result of we see a gap the place knowledge about antigen testing needs to be. Thousands and thousands of antigen exams at the moment are being manufactured each month. Quidel, a $6 billion firm that makes one among the most generally used antigen exams, says that it started producing at the least 1 million exams per week earlier in the summer time. In current days it has upped that fee to almost 2 million. “We don’t have any stock,” Doug Bryant, its chief government, instructed us. “We ship day-after-day with what we have now.” Becton Dickinson, which makes a competing antigen take a look at,  has predicted that it could be manufacturing 2 million exams per week by the finish of September.

Some federal companies have made these exams central to their nationwide technique. In August, the Facilities for Medicare and Medicaid Companies announced that it could purchase antigen exams from Quidel and Becton Dickinson, for nursing properties nationwide. Estimates calculated from agency data recommend that it’s going to distribute 2 million to four million exams to greater than 13,000 nursing properties by September 30.

But these thousands and thousands of exams are lacking from the public knowledge. Solely six states, representing 50 million folks, make separate antigen-test knowledge available. These knowledge present {that a} mere 215,000 antigen exams have been reported since early August, once they first appeared on state dashboards. Even when the knowledge are taken as consultant of the U.S. as an entire, and scaled accordingly, they indicate that only one.four million antigen exams have ever been performed—far fewer than the variety of exams that corporations have shipped since June, which is on the order of tens of thousands and thousands.

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