An open letter to the U.S. Congress

Ask the FDA to Allow COVID-19 Rapid Testing

4,747 so far! Let’s get to 5,000 signers!

Our current testing strategy is failing us. The technology already exists for a rapid, inexpensive, at home, spit on paper test. Millions of these could easily be manufactured and distributed. This would enable frequent testing of a large percentage of the population and allow us to safely reopen schools and the economy. This approach has been proposed by Dr. Michael Mina, Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard University. I’m asking you to please insist that: 1. The FDA immediately relax the strict sensitivity threshold for rapid tests. 2. The government start manufacturing such tests, or provide advance market commitments for private companies to manufacture them. The FDA requires that tests meet a strict sensitivity threshold, which excludes existing rapid tests. While rapid tests have lower sensitivity, they are very sensitive when it matters most — when your viral load is high enough that you are contagious. This, combined with their speed and ease of use, makes them ideal for routine public health screening. The current technology for testing, PCR, is not useful for public health screening. It detects ultra-low levels of viral RNA that exist for days or weeks after you have stopped being contagious. While useful for clinical diagnosis, it is not useful for public health screening. In order to stop the spread of SARS-CoV-2, we must change our testing strategy from the current method of infrequently testing with PCR to the frequent use of rapid tests. Please see for more information, thank you.

First sent on August 5, 2020 by

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