US Needs To Conduct 20 Million Coronavirus Tests per day To Reopen Fully
The U.S. will need to administer 20 million tests for the novel coronavirus each day by mid-summer in order to fully remobilize the economy in a safe fashion, according to new report from a Harvard panel of more than 45 experts in health, science and economics. The figure far exceeds testing recommendations from other health experts. Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has said that the country will need to initially conduct up to 3 million tests per week to reopen. A separate estimate from Harvard University researchers says the U.S. must conduct between 500,000 and 700,00 tests per day by mid-May to begin reopening.
The new report, released by Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics on Monday, emphasized the need for a massive scaling up of testing coupled with a robust contact-tracing program in order to reopen the U.S. in a way that avoids future shutdowns. Its top recommendations include a call for the nation to deliver 5 million tests per day by early June in order to ensure a safe reopening of portions of the economy.
“This number will need to increase over time (ideally by late July) to 20 million a day to fully remobilize the economy,” the authors wrote, cautioning that even that figure may not be high enough to “protect public health.”
The value in dramatically increasing testing is it will “prevent cycles of opening up and shutting down,” the authors argued, adding that the testing output will allow the virus to be adequately managed until a vaccine is developed.
“This Roadmap is the only approach to BOTH contain the virus and ramp back up to vibrant economic life. And, in the long term, it allows us to build an infrastructure of pandemic resilience that will serve us well when the next health crisis or disaster hits, while improving community health,” Danielle Allen, director of Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, said in a statement.