Regulators should get out of the way of broad COVID-19 testing

“After suffering from the initial outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), China appears to have succeeded at turning around its spread through the use of highly coercive measures such as widespread home confinement of both healthy and sick persons. Can societies with more individual liberty match its success without losing their character?” My new Cato piece argues that widespread testing has been a key to South Korea’s success and if the United States is to follow up it needs to open up regulatory permissions. With bonus provocation at the end about Bill Gates and billionaires!


  • Two weeks behind the news, but don’t worry about that, it’s easier to stick with the story that the government is falling down on the job. From February 29.

  • Building an immune workforce asap

    I agree with Walter that we need a Pearl-Harbor type urgency to ramp up the supply of testing kits, before our economy collapses as everyone goes into quarantine.

    But I have a question, if anyone on this group knows an MD who could answer it:
    does one occurrence of covid-19, even a mild one, make you immune to a recurrence?

    If so, we can immediately (once we have the testing kits) start certifying immune workers, able to fill key jobs that risk exposure. (Though even immune workers would need some training to avoid spreading third-party viruses.)

    Can tests detect someone who had covid-19 and recovered, or only those who still have it?

    If previous infection brings immunity, and testing is readily available, healthy people who can quarantine themselves might be encouraged to expose themselves now under medical supervision, so as to be available as immune volunteers in two weeks.

    • I am not an M.D., but the accounts I have read suggest that persons who get the virus and recover (or never get sick) do acquire an immune response which probably keeps them from being infected again. While there are a few instances of persons diagnosed as clear of the virus who then got sick again, it is thought that the problem is more with an inaccurate reading of being clear than with actual re-infection. On the other hand, there is some evidence that persons who recover fully can still be contagious to others afterward, perhaps for as long as two weeks or longer. Another danger is that this virus, like that of regular influenza, might mutate into strains not recognized by the immune system from the previous experience.

      I believe serologic tests are in principle going to be available to detect who has antibodies, whether or not they have ever actually been sick with the disease.

      As Hugo says, lasting immunity would have important positive implications for organizing response to the epidemic, by making available a cadre of potential front-line workers. None of this is to endorse his final suggestion, which I don’t endorse.

  • Maybe if the Center for DISEASE Control did the job that it was created for instead of allocating it’s resources to things beyond its mandate, (anti gun legislation) it might have been on top of this.

    The political leadership changes every four to eight years, but the bureaucrats stay forever. That’s where the blame for this belongs.

    It doesn’t matter which Party is in power, That’s why I don’t blame Hillary for Benghazi.

    • Ted Frank is somewhat acerbic on Twitter today:

      “The CDC was so underfunded that it had to divert resources away from pandemic detection and prevention to expressing concern about stigma and miscounting gun injuries.” (with illustrations)

      • One of the commenters (not Ted Frank himself) denounced CDC for sending people to Africa to help fight Ebola. That is one criticism I disagree with: it is better to fight Ebola in Africa than back here.

  • The common cold is a viral infection. I’ve been told since I was a kid that one never catches the same common cold twice. Because each cold episode is caused by a slightly different cold virus. If that’s true, you can be immune from the cold virus you just recovered from, but that doesn’t mean much.

    I don’t know if the same may be true for other viruses, specifically for COVID 19.

  • […] the FDA has done is now universally perceptible, undeniable.” [Balaji Srinivasan; earlier here, and this at […]