Failing the Test

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I think the next forty days will probably be the forty burst days of the pandemic. It's really bad at this point. And hundreds of thousands of americans getting infected every day two to three thousand people dying every day if we had widespread testing available. This would make a huge difference. But we don't and so we're still stock and you're gonna see more hospitals basically say we can't take care of anybody else santa's we can take our kobe patience. We just can't take anybody else it's going to be off and it's gonna be a very challenging months six weeks ahead this week. We watched as the first americans received the covid vaccine heroic healthcare workers who have been on the front lines of this fight for months it was emotional an extraordinary and it is something we should be very excited about but at the same time we cannot forget that most of us will not be getting this vaccine for months and we cannot lose sight of the crisis at hand because the spread of covid never been worse for almost nine months now i have been reporting on cova covering it every day. The stories of healthcare workers families business owners teachers. I thought i understood the chaos of this moment but a few weeks ago. I realized i did. I became one of the more than sixteen million. Americans who've contracted the virus sorted my family and the experience of getting covid made it even more clear to me the we have failed and continued to fail in some very qa's namely testing and tracing. I'm stephanie rule. Msnbc anchor nbc. News senior correspondent and. This is modern rules. A podcast from nbc. Think an iheartradio on this podcast. We're not gonna waste your time. We're interested in getting straight to the point and they were gonna leave you with some time to think and today we are looking at why the us is failing the covid test and how we can use the tools we have at our disposal right now to maybe get things under control. And i've got the perfect guest here to help us. Try and make sense of it. Dr sheesh off. He's the dean of brown university school of public health and he has been a crucial voice of science and reason throughout this pandemic doctors off. Thank you for joining us. I start with covid nineteen tests. Can you explain to us. What kind of tests are available in the united states. The pros the cons. Because i'm gonna tell you when my husband woke up with a scratchy throat not feeling that. Well i foolishly thought. Let's run out and get a test. There's no such thing as let's go out and get a test so we thank you so much for having me on it. And this is a question that confuses people still nine ten months into this pandemic right now if you wanna think about a test to diagnose whether you have the virus or not you have to twice. It's an antigen tests and a pcr tests. Most of the tests we've used over the last nine months are these. Pcr tests the really good They pick up almost anybody who's infected. They have to be running a major lab and they can be turned around twenty four hours but sometimes the a week. Let's talk about that. Other kind of test the antigen tests. That's the rapid test. Yeah that's the rabbit office. Cheap ten to fifteen bucks a test as opposed to a hundred and fifty two hundred dollars for pcr tests. You should be able to get a result in fifteen minutes. So you're thinking cheap and fast. What's wrong with this story. It's a little less sensitive. So let me explain without me the. Pcr tests will pick up somebody with the infection up two weeks. After they've been infected the antigen tests is really a test for business. So if you are in that period of time where you're spreading the virus. Lots of people the antigen tests will be posits but there are other times. Let's say later in the disease course where you may not have a lot of virus. You're still infected. The level of virus you have is very low. 'cause you're kind of on the tail end of your illness the antigen tests will then turn negatives not gonna be as good at picking those people. Could there have been a scenario. Where people would have gotten antigen tests to their homes. And if they woke up saying Maybe i was exposed. Maybe i don't feel great. You take a test immediately and that will dictate whether or not you leave your house that day. Absolute and for that. The energy test is really good. We've had this technology since may and we should have had billions of these tasks widely available so people could test themselves all the time you wake up. You have a sore throat you go to. Cvs pick up a ten dollar tests and test yourself. We just never made those investments. Remember how the disease spreads majority of people who are spreading the disease have no symptoms at all. If you could test yourself what that would do is you take people who are infected of commission. They wouldn't be spreading a dog or so. There's very good data. Now that if we had those tests available level of infection the community would go way down but also you could start implementing those tests in schools and businesses and that would make a big difference. And here's the big issue. We still don't have a plan. Task can take a week just to come back. In which time if you're out and about your spreading the virus if you haven't they tell you to isolate but unless you have a place to isolate and as supportive job or family. Many many people can't afford to follow the guidelines. When you think you may have exposure to covid nineteen do we in the united states of america actually had the choice to say here. Are my nearby testing facilities. This is where i can get a. Pcr tests and the turnaround time is x. You could get results in a day but many many many are five six seven days. Why would that be basically are true. Major lab testing companies. Labcorp

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