There is still time to register for our September virtual conference, The Game Has Changed: 2020. Kickoff is Tuesday!
Good news on the medical front #1: A dozen Israeli labs will be rolling out a combinatorially clever form of pool testing for SARS-CoV-2. Each person’s sample is divided among several pools, such that positivity analysis across the set of pools pinpoints the virus-laden individual(s) within the full batch. The three researchers behind this methodology have formed the company Poold Diagnostics and intend to bring the approach to U.S. labs. (Dominic Suicu, Seattle, Mar 2020)
Good news on the medical front #2: The FDA has approved Abbott to manufacture its inexpensive ($5), fast (15-minute) COVID-19 test. It intends to produce a hefty number of tests (50M) monthly by October and release them with an app to be used as a “digital health pass” by those with negative results. We have some reservations, though: accuracy (false positives and negatives hover in the 2–3% range—according to Abbott), distribution (although the form factor is akin to a pregnancy test, they are to be administered professionally and therefore require infrastructure), and longevity of results’ utility (a negative test today doesn’t mean you won’t contract the virus tomorrow, meaning the health pass should be deemed ephemeral).
Questionable news on the medical front: In the meantime, the CDC altered its guidance on testing this week, specifying that “healthy people” need not be tested following close, extended exposure to others who test positive for COVID-19—this, despite broad consensus among immunologists and epidemiologists that up to half of all transmission stems from asymptomatic/presymptomatic individuals. (Dominic Suicu, Seattle, Mar 2020; Anthony Goldbloom, podcast, Spring 2020)