Our eyes on the virus: Because we still need a rapid test spread even with vaccines

The vaccines are here. Why do we still need tests? The proof is our eye on the virus. Without testing, we cannot see where it is or where it is going. When autumn and winter are introduced, the fires will happen again, triggered by the unvaccinated. And most people become infected before they know they are infected.

Frequent quick tests are accessible it’s a tool that, if deployed last summer and fall would have saved 100,000 lives. The United States has missed the opportunity to use frequent rapid tests to prevent individuals from inadvertently spreading the deadly SARS-CoV-2 virus to our most vulnerable and avoiding the horrific winter wave.

By quick tests, I mean tests that an individual can do without a lab (ideally in the privacy of their own home) with real-time data results. There are two types: rapid antigen tests, which look for virus proteins and detect infectious levels of viruses. The other lets you know you’ve been infected: Rapid molecular tests accurately detect the virus’s RNA and amplify it to confirm infection – sometimes days before the individual shows symptoms.

In spite bipartisan, national support and a call to action by more than 50 leading scientists, the U.S. government has failed to adopt a robust rapid home testing strategy that could make these types of tests available to all Americans at almost no cost (similar to what the UK did).

But the vaccines are here, so why do we still need tests?

With cases growing in the world particularly due to more transmissible variants, we should use tests to prevent and control cases and outbreaks when they occur. The new guide from the CDC, allowing vaccinated individuals to plant social distance and take off their masks in a wide variety of settings, it should have been introduced with complementary in-home testing for everyone. We have seen examples of unvaccinated individuals transmission to vaccinated residents in nursing homes. We know it too Sionti to WHO, although a majority of all adult Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, the absorption rate is not constant across the country. In Mississippi, for example, only 31% of the population received at least one dose. We need to do everything we can to widen access to the vaccine and convince more people to get vaccinated, but we also need to be smarter when it comes to testing.

We have already seen new variants spread more rapidly and there is the potential for others to develop an increased ability to bypass vaccine-derived immunity that could threaten the gains that vaccines have made. When it happens, the virus could find its way into nursing homes and nursing homes. Responding to younger individuals, the elderly and the elderly have a slightly more limited ability to maintain over time a highly effective immune protection. By the end of the fall and winter, after almost a year of vaccination, many seniors may once again have a partially renewed susceptibility.

As we navigate the next chapter of the pandemic and work our way closer to normal, it is essential that we exploit accurate and highly accessible rapid tests to keep schools, jobs and travel open in the safest way possible.

We know for sure that individuals do not need symptoms to infect others with COVID-19. The virus presents differently in everyone and most people are infectious for several days before manifesting symptoms (if ever). After infection, the virus sets in, before it begins to grow very rapidly. Once it hits its step, in a single day the virus grows from hundreds of virus particles in the nose, to billions. At that point, the transmission can reach its peak, before the person has any recognition that it could spit out millions of virus particles with each breath. Symptoms are most often the result of the immune response to the virus, rather than from infection by the virus itself, and the immune system does not enter at full speed and gives fever until after this peak of virus transmission is complete. realized. This is one main reason why SARS-CoV-2 has been so difficult to contain – because maximum transmission often occurs before body sensors come in to let people know they may be infected. Regular rapid tests can allow infected individuals to know that they are infected and isolate them quickly to prevent them from spreading to others.

The White House has focused on vaccines above tests, but why not give each family a box of 20 free home-tested tests after a family member is vaccinated? Investigations show that Americans want fast, affordable, (or free) texts. Dr. Fauci has repeatedly offered his strong support for a robust level of rapid testing. At a recent U.S. Energy and Commerce hearing, he said, “We should be literally flooding the system with easily accessible, affordable, without the need for a prescription, point of care, highly sensitive and highly specific (tests).” At another point, he commented that we, as a country, have done “infinitely more complicated” things than scaling quick tests and bringing them into every home.

There are a handful of fast and molecular antigen tests authorized at home by the FDA available for over-the-counter use, but the price is high and the supply isn’t close to what it should be if we want most of the ‘Americans have these tests at home. Just as we did with the vaccine, the U.S. government should subsidize test manufacturing and aid distribution.

We know that the combination of vaccines and rapid tests will lead to community transmission to a point where we can effectively eliminate the virus. The time to “flood the system” with quick tests was 12 months ago. But now it’s always better than ever. We need to invest today in widespread fast-track tests to completely reopen the economy, schools and travel safely. Failure to do so may also cause further hospitalization and death, and continue to prolong the pandemic.

(Mina is a medical advisor to Detect.)

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