The New York Times interviewed over 50 current and former U.S. health officials, senior scientists, company executives, and administration officials to investigate America’s “lost month” without widespread coronavirus testing, “when the world’s richest country — armed with some of the most highly trained scientists and infectious disease specialists — squandered its best chance of containing the virus’s spread.”
With capacity so limited, the Center for Disease Control’s criteria for who was tested remained extremely narrow for weeks to come: only people who had recently traveled to China or had been in contact with someone who had the virus. The lack of tests in the states also meant local public health officials could not use another essential epidemiological tool: surveillance testing. To see where the virus might be hiding, nasal swab samples from people screened for the common flu would also be checked for the coronavirus…
Even though researchers around the country quickly began creating tests that could diagnose Covid-19, many said they were hindered by the Food and Drug Administration’s approval process. The new tests sat unused at labs around the country. Stanford was one of them. Researchers at the world-renowned university had a working test by February, based on protocols published by the World Health Organization…. By early March, after federal officials finally announced changes to expand testing, it was too late. With the early lapses, containment was no longer an option. The tool kit of epidemiology would shift — lockdowns, social disruption, intensive medical treatment — in hopes of mitigating the harm.
Now, the United States has more than 100,000 coronavirus cases, the most of any country in the world… And still, many Americans sickened by the virus cannot get tested… In tacit acknowledgment of the shortage, Mr. Trump asked South Korea’s president on Monday to send as many test kits as possible from the 100,000 produced there daily, more than the country needs. Public health experts reacted positively to the increased capacity. But having the ability to diagnose the disease three months after it was first disclosed by China does little to address why the United States was unable to do so sooner, when it might have helped reduce the toll of the pandemic.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Source: Slashdot – NYT Investigates America’s ‘Lost Month’ for Coronavirus Testing