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These tests take five minutes, do not require any instruments, and can be performed in large numbers.
But what about the 15.4% of cases these rapid tests would miss? As Hajdu seems to see, these people go dancing without a mask on the streets, festively coughing on the faces of strangers, because they think they don’t have COVID-19 when they really do. It is the community chaos that our Minister of Health and Health Canada are currently protecting us from by refusing to approve rapid tests, even in an emergency.
Except that from a public health point of view, these missed cases are irrelevant because – dancing without a mask or not – these people are not currently contagious. In an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, it doesn’t matter whether someone has a low viral load (that a rapid test might miss at the end of the illness, for example) or no viral load at all – in no case can anyone else be ill. And that’s all that matters in decisions like whether that person should go to school this morning, or see clients this afternoon, or attend a family reunion tonight. The only reason we don’t already use paper-based rapid COVID-19 antigen testing is because North American regulators (the FDA and Health Canada) are keeping the tests at the standards they use to. medical diagnoses, rather than judging them on their merits as public health screening tools. If this seems obvious, well, that’s because it is. That’s why Malcolm Gladwell moaned to Michael Mina on the Solvable podcast, “How stupid is the FDA?” Maybe that was a rhetorical question, but the answer is “pretty stupid … but not as stupid as Health Canada” because at least the FDA has approved a few quick antigen tests, even though they’re not the cheapest. that Mina pushes. Health Canada won’t even go that far, stubbornly waiting for a near-perfect state that isn’t necessary for the tests to do their job.