The Trump administration official in charge of the country’s COVID-19 testing strategy said on Thursday that the US is conducting enough tests and dismisses critics who say otherwise.
“It’s just a false statement – and I’m really tired of hearing people who aren’t part of the system say – that we need millions of tests every day,” Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services, said on a call with reporters.
“If that were true, we wouldn’t be able to reverse the outbreaks we had,” he added.
Some experts have questioned whether infection rates in the US are really slowing down, noting that a drop in testing over the past few weeks could obscure the spread of the virus.
According to the COVID Tracking Project, the US performed an average of 740,000 tests per day as of Tuesday, a decrease of more than 100,000 daily tests compared to two weeks ago.
Instead, Giroir emphasized a decrease in the percentage of tests that give positive results, arguing that if the US does not have enough tests, that number will increase.
“We are doing the right amount of testing to reduce contagion, flatten curves and save lives,” Giroir said. “You beat viruses with smart policies complemented by strategy testing. You cannot beat a virus by testing everyone with a shotgun. “
Strategic testing means testing everyone in nursing homes and hospitalized people with COVID-19, and monitoring surveillance at public health laboratories, Giroir said. outbreak.
“Digital street vendors are spectators, not part of the system. They don’t understand how this should be used strategically, ”he said.
According to the COVID Tracking Project, since the beginning of the pandemic, the US has carried out nearly 64 million tests.
An analysis by The New York Times, based on the methodology of the Harvard Institute of Global Health, estimates that the United States needs to conduct at least 1.5 million tests a day to catch the virus and reopen it safely. for schools and the economy.
Giroir also addresses delays at commercial laboratories, which take longer to return test results due to the spike in demand in the South and the West, two regions of the country where cases are reported. Disease spikes in the past few weeks.
He said turnaround times are improving and that people who need quick test results, such as nursing home residents, are getting them.
Commercial laboratories represented by the American Association of Clinical Laboratories return 80% of test results within three days and 90% of test results within 5 days, Giroir said.
“I would say that the five-day trials are trials that should probably never be ordered in the first place because they are not a priority,” says Giroir.
Giroir has previously said that people who are checked in before they go on vacation have a lower priority.
Some experts suggest that the United States should conduct extensive testing of millions of people every day with cheaper, faster tests that can be used at home before people go to work, school, or other regions. they run the risk of infecting others.
Giroir says he expects faster, cheaper tests to be on the market in the next few months, but “these aren’t the 100 million tests a day you do from home.”
“If we have a perfect home test, that’s great. We’re all looking for that. But we don’t have that at the moment, “he said. It will be a type of supervised test that is medically supervised or trained by a trained person, possibly at a careful spot. “