More Trials and Contradictions of Testing

COVID-19
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Pearl River     Just when we think we have a handle on the virus and Covid testing, Omicron, the latest version, but not the last we’ll see, is making fools of all of us, one way or another.  Name an institution from public health and hospitals to government officials to sports to entertainment to airlines to tourism to schools, and the pandemic continues to kick our butts, one way or another.

            We’ve talked about the pluses and minuses of PCR versus antigen tests before, and it seems we’ll be talking about them again, but that assumes that we can actually get the tests to have the discussion.  In a double-barreled pandemic assault, the news now raises two critical issues about testing, regardless of which one is better.  First, can you get them at all, and, secondly, can you afford them if they are available.  The Wall Street Journal reports that some labs are now triaging tests because they are being overwhelmed so that only those showing symptoms or awaiting medical procedures can get them.

.  The New York Times reports on how much of a family budget is now going to testing, particularly at-home testing.   Put these two things together and you have a combustible political issue as well, since the waterfall from these problems swamps many institutions along with individual and family health.

            We’ve talked about travel before, lord knows, but imagine just as one example the problems testing now creates.  Triaging doesn’t necessarily put a traveler at the front of the line, and it doesn’t matter if at-home tests aren’t readily available, because airlines and other countries aren’t going to accept them anyway.  Either way, a close friend shared with me a conversation she had with some Canadian health experts who are saying antigen tests are only 50% accurate anyway.  Incidentally, fully vaxxed Canadian citizen travelers are now subject to the United Kingdom’s testing regime, where you have to prove that you’ve scheduled and paid for a PCR test in Canada once you arrive.  The only thing certain is that the labs and vaccine makers are making a mint right now!

            All of this is a vicious cycle.  Can’t get tests and don’t want to pay for them, so you don’t get them, and there’s a good chance you are “shedding” the virus everywhere you go to family, friends, and the community.  That’s not a win.  Furthermore, other public health folks tell me that they estimate that 50% of the fully vaccinated are going to get the Omicron variant, and many won’t even know it because they are asymptomatic.  On the other hand, as my friend pointed out to me, people who weather the flu and the seasonal cold as part of regular life, are now running to get tested, which is part of the reason for demand overwhelming supply.

            Remember, we’re talking about the vaccinated facing these issues in the developed world or among the classes able to access vaccines globally.  These problems of inconvenience and costs are multiplied many folds in Africa, Latin America, and elsewhere.  We’re also not talking about the gross spectacles of privilege, narcissism, and conceit being displayed by some athletes and politicians, who are making notorious and disgusting examples of themselves.

            What a mess!