There’s a lot of world-wide anxiety about the spread of the latest coronavirus variant, and whether it’s more virulent than its predecessors. Time, and science will answer those questions. In the meantime, testing would be a fantastic way to track the virus.
Or it would be a fantastic way to track the bug, if not for our very own Food and Drug Administration, which continues to do more harm than good, not just on at-home test, but on new anti-viral drugs:
…the FDA has long stymied the development and roll out of another vital component for the effective use of these antiviral medications: namely, at-home COVID-19 testing. Both pills must be taken by people within 3 to 5 days of exposure or symptom onset to be most effective at preventing hospitalization and death. That means that people need to be able to test themselves quickly, easily, and cheaply.
Up until mid-October, the FDA had approved only two over-the-counter at-home COVID-19 diagnostic tests, one of which has now had to be recalled. In the last month and a half, agency regulators have finally gotten around to authorizing nine more. The good news is that preliminary evidence suggests that current self-tests would be able to detect omicron variant infections.
Never fear – the Biden administration is on the case. But not really:
In October, the Biden Administration announced that it would spend $1 billion on purchasing and distributing at-home COVID-19 tests for free at public health clinics, food pantries, and community centers. The goal is to ramp up production to 200 million at-home tests in December. That amounts to around 0.6 tests per American per month. That’s not enough testing to diagnose in a timely fashion a lot of people who could benefit from the new COVID-19 antiviral pills when the FDA finally gets around to approving them.
We get it: having tests that work and anti-virals that are safe and effective is paramount. But this late in the anti-COVID game should mean the relevant regulators understand what’s needed, how to make it, and who can get it to people most effectively. There’s no excuse for bureaucratic foot dragging. Unless the bureaucrats are simply incapable of operating any other way, even in an emergency.