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The Challenges of Expanding Rapid Tests to Curb COVID-19

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To identify the key insights or developments described in this article
1 Credit CME

If Michael Mina, MD, PhD, had his way, testing for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) would become simple and routine—as easy as brushing one’s teeth in the morning.

The test would cost around a dollar, and it would provide results in about the time it takes to brew and down the day’s first cup of coffee. A negative result would mean it was safe to go to work or to school, as long as other basic mitigation measures—mask wearing, social distancing, and handwashing—were practiced. A positive result, seconded by a different test, would necessitate self-isolation.

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If Michael Mina, MD, PhD, had his way, testing for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) would become simple and routine—as easy as brushing one’s teeth in the morning.

The test would cost around a dollar, and it would provide results in about the time it takes to brew and down the day’s first cup of coffee. A negative result would mean it was safe to go to work or to school, as long as other basic mitigation measures—mask wearing, social distancing, and handwashing—were practiced. A positive result, seconded by a different test, would necessitate self-isolation.

Given that an estimated 40% of people with SARS-CoV-2 infection have no symptoms but can still transmit the virus to others, widespread, do-it-yourself (DIY) rapid testing for presymptomatic or asymptomatic people could end the exponential spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), said Mina. An epidemiologist, pathologist, and member of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, he also directs a recently launched volunteer organization called Rapid Tests.

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