Experts Suggest Quantity-Over-Quality Testing Strategy

coronavirus testing strategy

Experts Suggest Quantity-Over-Quality Testing Strategy

Quick Take

  • Negotiations continue over a second stimulus package with less than 24 hours to strike a deal.
  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tested positive for coronavirus. 
  • Trump signed an executive order requiring the government to purchase medical supplies from American factories.
  • Experts suggest a new quantity-over-quality antigen testing strategy for faster test results.

Negotiations Continue Over Stimulus Deal

Negotiations continue over a second stimulus package as the resurgence of coronavirus has slowed down economic recovery. Lawmakers have less than 24 hours to strike a deal before congress leaves for recess. Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, says that if congress cannot make a deal by the end of this week, then President Trump will step in and act individually.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi again rejected the possibility of a short-term extension of federal jobless benefits,  indicating her desire to restore enhanced unemployment benefits back to the $600 a week level.

Republicans have so far been unwilling to approve a large-scale stimulus package and have stuck with their proposed $1 trillion stimulus package, which includes $200 weekly jobless payments. Meadows says congress remains divided and that the two sides are trillions of dollars apart from reaching a deal.

Funding for the US Postal Service has also become a major issue in the negotiations. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told CNN that they are demanding that 100% of mail-in ballots be delivered by Election Day, calling on the post office to hold back on overtime and employee cuts.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine Tests Positive

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has tested positive for coronavirus. The governor was being screened as part of a standard protocol before his scheduled meeting with President Trump in Cleveland. Gov. DeWine will no longer meet with the president and has returned to Columbus where he will be tested again and quarantined for 14 days.

Gov. DeWine is the second governor in the nation known to have tested positive. Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, received a positive test result last month. The state of Ohio has recorded a total of 96,305 cases and 3,596 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

Trump Signs Executive Order Encouraging American Manufacturing

During his stop to Ohio, President Trump gave a speech about rebuilding the economy and then toured a Whirlpool plant in Clyde. Trump also signed a long-awaited executive order requiring the federal government to purchase certain pharmaceuticals and medical supplies from American factories.

The move comes as politicians of both parties have begun criticizing the country’s dependence on China and other nations for drugs and medical supplies. The pandemic has strained supply chains and led to spiraling global demand and shortages of products like masks, testing equipment and certain pharmaceuticals.

The new order requires the federal government, including the departments of defense, veterans affairs and health and human services, to purchase drugs from American sources. However, it also allows certain exemptions based on cost, availability and public interest – and it gives the FDA the authority to make the final call on which products are subject to the requirement.

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America’s Coronavirus Test Strategy Is Failing

Experts are now proposing a new quantity-over-quality testing strategy after severe supply shortages have slowed the turnaround of results, stretching to more than three weeks in some parts of the country. The slow down has crippled efforts to detect and track the spread of the virus as the entire point of getting tested is to self isolate immediately.

While most coronavirus tests to date have been done through an ultra-accurate procedure called PCR, the quantity-over-quality procedure requires widespread adoption of less accurate tests, as long as they are administered quickly and often enough. Omai Garner, director of clinical microbiology in the UCLA Health System says that even if you miss somebody on Day 1, if you test them repeatedly, the argument is, you’ll catch them the next time around.

This new strategy is contingent on an enormous supply of testing kits. Currently, only a handful of speedy tests have been cleared by the FDA for emergency use.  Such antigen testing could provide a fast result in the same way as pregnancy tests. Antigen tests could be done at a doctor’s office or even at home and cost just a few dollars each.

CDC Issues Warning Against Drinking Hand Sanitizer

The CDC issued a formal warning this week about the dangers of drinking hand sanitizer and alerted poison control centers across the county to be on the lookout for cases of methanol toxicity after four people died and nearly a dozen became ill.

From May 1 to June 30, 15 people in Arizona and New Mexico were treated for poisoning after they swallowed alcohol-based hand sanitizer. It was not immediately clear if any of the people who were poisoned drank the hand sanitizer for its disinfectant properties. Some adults had consumed it for its alcohol content.

Similar warnings were issued in April after President Trump suggested digesting disinfectants could help fight the virus. The CDC has recommended the use of ethyl alcohol- or isopropyl alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available.

Last week, the FDA announced that it had placed methanol-based products manufactured in Mexico on an import alert because of their toxicity. It also said it was working with retailers to remove those products from marketplaces.

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