NYT Investigates America's 'Lost Month' for Coronavirus Testing

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.


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Source: *FS – All – Science News 2 Net
NYT Investigates America's 'Lost Month' for Coronavirus Testing