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FDA approves rapid COVID test; how to stop an outbreak


Senior Member
Ashland, Oregon
I didn't know where else to put the following information that I got in an email. So thought I'd just start a new thread @Mary ;). -- I hope the new test they talk about actually works--there's been plenty of disappointments so far... :rolleyes:

Good News on COVID
We had two really big pieces of COVID news this week that are very encouraging.​
The first is that the FDA has approved a new simple rapid test.​
Here's how it works: You get a nasal swap. The provider rubs the swab on a piece of paper. Fifteen minutes later the paper either shows you 1 line (negative) or 2 lines (positive).​
This is a really big deal, for a few reasons.​
First, a test that requires off-site processing of one or more days is only marginally useful. Having a rapid test that can be conducted on-site is going change the game when it comes to test-and-trace.​
Second, because the test is so simple, it can be produced at scale cheaply. The manufacturer, Abbott Diagnostics, says that they plan on making 50 million tests a month.​
To date we've conducted 79 million tests in the United States. So this would be an evolutionary leap.​
Which brings us to the other bit of good news: The University of Arizona found a way to stop an outbreak before it started.​
I'm going to paraphrase the story as reported by Charles Fishman (author of one of the best books I've ever read about economics and business: The Walmart Effect):​

  • If you have the coronavirus, it sheds significantly in your stool.
    • So your poop is a pretty strong indicator for infection.
    • At the University of Arizona, they set up wastewater testing for on-campus dorms.
    • The wastewater testing showed virus coming from one dorm (Likins Hall).
    • The school did rapid tests (like the one we just talked about) on all 311 residents of the dorm.
    • They caught two positives, who were asymptomatic.
    • They moved these two cases to isolation and then traced their contacts.
    • BOOM!
That's how you do infectious disease management. (For a primer on how not to do infectious disease management, look at the University of Alabama, where faculty have been instructed not to talk about COVID and, if they become aware of infections, not to tell students.)​
Why is this good news? Well, this approach doesn't scale. You can only do it in relatively small closed systems. But America has a lot of relatively small closed systems. Like, for instance, universities. So this offers a path forward.​
But more important is this: It shows that we can fight the spread of the virus. We aren't fated to just sit here waiting for herd immunity. We don't have to keep silent about it and pretend it's not happening. We don't have to retreat to wishcasting about how if we don't test, then everything will be fine.​
If we are serious about managing this disease, then it can be done.​
Better late than never.​