The Trump administration official in charge of the COVID-19 testing country strategy said Thursday that the US is doing enough testing and dismissed critics who say otherwise.
“It’s just a false confession – and I’m really tired of hearing it from people who are not involved in the system – that we need millions of proofs every day,” Adm said. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of Health and Human Services, in a phone call with reporters.
“If that were true, we would not be doing the return of the explosions we have,” he added.
Some experts question whether the rate of infections in the US is really slowing down, noting a drop in testing over the past few weeks that could change how far the virus has spread.
The U.S. was conducting an average of 740,000 tests per day as of Tuesday, according to the COVID Tracking Project, a drop of more than 100,000 daily tests compared to two weeks ago.
Instead, Giroir pointed to a drop in the percentage of tests that return positive, arguing that if the U.S. was not doing enough tests, that figure would rise.
“We are doing the right amount of testing now to reduce the spread, to flatten the curve, to save lives,” Giroir said. “You defeated the virus by the intelligent policies complemented by strategic testing. You do not beat the virus by firing a gun trying everyone all the time.”
Strategic testing means testing everyone in nursing homes and those hospitalized with COVID-19, and surveillance testing in public health labs that aims to detect outbreaks, Giroir said.
“People who are following the numbers are spectators, not part of the system. “They do not understand how this strategy should be used,” he said.
Since the pandemic began, the U.S. has conducted nearly 64 million tests, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
A New York Times analysis, based on the methodology of the Harvard Global Health Institute, estimates that the US must perform at least 1.5 million tests a day to stay ahead of the virus and safely reopen schools and the economy.
Giroir also addressed the time delay in commercial laboratories, which are taking more time to turn test results due to increased demand in the South and West, two regions of the country that have seen a case stroke in recent weeks.
He said the return time is improving and people who need test results quickly, such as nursing home residents, are getting them.
Commercial labs represented by the American Association of Clinical Laboratories return 80 percent of test results within three days, and 90 percent of test results within five days, Giroir said.
“I would venture to say that those out of five days are tests that certainly should not have been ordered in the first place because they are not a priority,” Giroir said.
Giroir has previously said that getting people tested before going on vacation is a lower priority.
Some experts argue that the US should do extensive testing of millions of people every day using cheaper, faster tests that can be used at home before people go to work, school or other areas where they are at risk. infect others.
Giroir said he expects the fastest and cheapest tests to be on the market in the coming months, but “this is not the 100 million tests a day you do at home.”
“If we had a perfect test at home, it would be good. We are all looking towards this. “But we do not have it at the moment,” he said. It will be some kind of supervised medical test or trained by the supervised person, certainly at a point of care. “