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We can’t forget about testing in the fight against COVID

Topic: We can’t forget about testing in the fight against COVID

With nearly 150 million Americans vaccinated, we are beginning to see a light at the end of this long pandemic tunnel. People are slowly returning to some semblance of normal life—visiting with grandparents, sending kids to school in person, and planning vacations. But as we look to the months and years ahead, we must continue to be vigilant about doing all we can now to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

Vaccinations alone will not get us through this. It is critical to continue testing for the virus as vaccine hesitancy stands in the way of herd immunity; as new, more contagious variants continue to evolve and spread; and as we learn more about the long-term effectiveness of vaccines. (BD manufactures and sells a wide variety of products for the safe collection and transportation of diagnostic specimens, as well as instruments and reagent systems to accurately detect a broad range of infectious diseases, infections, and cancers—including COVID-19.)

While herd immunity is the goal, many medical experts maintain that it is unlikely in the foreseeable future—and it’s more realistic to reduce the virus to a manageable threat. Broader testing efforts, which would include testing asymptomatic people, are likely to remain necessary to ensure an office building, a school, or a sports team is truly safe.

As an example, just recently, nine vaccinated members of the New York Yankees tested positive for COVID-19. (Two were symptomatic.) While the approved COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness, none of them are 100% effective at avoiding an infection altogether—and if you’re infected, you can spread the illness whether you are sick or not.

That’s why testing matters. Major League Baseball’s testing program was key to detecting the virus in this instance, and helping to minimize further spread.

In the U.S., we have yet to define how often to test, how often data should be reported, or how frequently individuals should be tested to be declared negative. Without a clear, consistent standard of government-enforced guidelines for such settings, the health of the public—and our return to normal life—is threatened.

Over time, COVID-19 testing will inevitably slow as the rate of new cases falls. But for the near future, it remains one of the best preventative tools by identifying any ongoing spread and keeping schools, businesses, and other parts of regular life safely open.

This is a critical time in our fight against COVID. The Biden administration deserves praise for taking important steps to increase testing and testing resources across the country. Under the President’s national strategy for responding to COVID, more than $12 billion will be invested in helping dramatically increase testing in schools to support safe, in-person learning, as well as increasing testing among underserved populations.

Topic Discussed: We can’t forget about testing in the fight against COVID

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