How to Beat COVID-19 with At Home Rapid Testing by Michael Mina, MD (Antigen Tests)

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We’ve received your requests for a brief summary video (to share!) of Dr. Michael Mina’s research and how inexpensive (approx. $1), at-home, COVID-19 tests (results in 15 minutes) could be utilized to dramatically slow the spread of this pandemic (and open up schools etc. in a faster and safer way).

Dr. Mina is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health and a core member of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. Dr. Mina’s research has demonstrated that the sensitivity (accuracy) of these simple saliva or swab paper daily quick tests (the technology already exists) is high enough to detect the vast majority of infectious #COVID19 and could be utilized frequently at home.

2 INITIAL WAYS TO HELP:

1) Please share this video with friends, colleagues, and elected officials. If possible, use the hashtag #RapidTestsNow or #DailyQuickTest

2) For templates and streamlined ways to contact your governor and representatives in Congress about rapid COVID 19 testing, visit the volunteer-based website that Dr. Mina is the director of.

LINKS / REFERENCES:

For a more in-depth summary of Dr. Mina’s research and ideas:

Michael Mina, MD, Ph.D.’s bio:

Dr. Mina’s New York Times article about a new COVID-19 testing paradigm:

Dr. Mina’s research paper: Test sensitivity is secondary to frequency and turnaround time for COVID-19 surveillance (Pre-print)

TWiV 640: Test often, fast turnaround, interview with Michael Mina:

Follow Dr. Mina on Twitter:

More info and ways to contact your elected officials about antigen tests / rapid COVID tests:

MORE READING:

A Harvard Magazine article by Jonathan Shaw on August 3, 2020: “Failing the Coronavirus-Testing Test” has a nice summary of Dr. Mina’s message

Selected excerpts from that article:

“At the moment, the United States has no semblance of public-health testing” says Michael Mina.

Current tests for active infection with SARS-CoV-2 are highly sensitive—but most are given to suspected COVID-19 patients long after the infected person has stopped transmitting the virus to others. That means the results are virtually useless for public-health efforts to contain the raging pandemic. These PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, which amplify viral RNA to detectable levels, are used by physicians, often in hospital settings, to help guide clinical care for individual patients. In general, members of the public have not had access to such tests outside clinical settings, but even if they did, would find them too expensive for frequent use.

“The astounding realization is that all we’re doing with all of this testing is clogging up the testing infrastructure,” with results arriving a week or more after tests are administered, “and essentially finding people for whom we can’t even act because they are done transmitting,” says Mina.

“We need to change the whole script of what it means to test people,” he says. “In our country, we have always assumed that testing belongs in the clinical sphere, in the diagnostic sphere, and has to be run by laboratories or diagnosticians. The result is that we have a system for coronavirus testing…which is flailing, with raging outbreaks occurring.” What the country needs instead are rapid tests, widely deployed, so that infectious individuals can be readily self-identified and isolated, breaking the chain of transmission.

So even though a saliva-based paper test wouldn’t register a positive result for as long as a half or even a full day after the PCR test, it would have great value in identifying pockets of infection that might otherwise be undetected altogether.

The U.S. government has spent billions of dollars supporting attempts to develop vaccines and therapeutics. “Developing a good vaccine is very difficult to do,” he points out. “It’s a crapshoot that may or may not work. We’re putting billions more into developing therapeutics [treatments for COVID-19] which is really, really difficult.” With rapid testing, by contrast, “We have solutions, sitting in front of us right now, that are cheaper, would be much quicker to build, and much less risky to actually introduce and roll out. And the only thing standing in the way is that there just doesn’t seem to be the will to bring a public-health tool to market.”

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Video produced by Kyle Allred, Co-Founder of
Contact Kyle or MedCram by emailing: customers@medcram.com

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