0918 Widespread Asymptomatic Testing
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Politics, Policy & Law

What it will take to get to mass asymptomatic screening for COVID-19

A look at the barriers to mass asymptomatic testing, and the path to removing them

A look at the barriers to mass asymptomatic testing, and the path to removing them.

Sep 19, 2020 | 12:33 AM GMT

Making widespread COVID-19 screening a priority for public health will require a broad and abundant basket of testing technologies, and a coordinated plan for how to use and pay for them.

The first barrier is having enough tests. But even as more manufacturers ramp up production of more types of tests, confusion about whether and how asymptomatic testing is recommended, regulated and paid for will limit their reach.

With CDC flip-flopping on asymptomatic testing, and questions swirling about whether other agencies have inappropriately influenced its guidelines, the baton has been taken up by the private and philanthropic sectors, and the workplaces, schools, and state and local governments following their lead.

Instead of converging on a single asymptomatic testing technology and protocol, these groups are creating and implementing strategies that factor in the target populations pre-test probability of infection, and the frequency and conditions under which testing is feasible in their environment.

Such multi-pronged strategies present opportunities for test developers of all stripes.

But maximizing those opportunities will require shifting away from healthcare models that have been optimized to control spending on testing and that are heavily weighted toward testing in centralized labs instead

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