COVID Testing Should Double In Coming Weeks, Dr. Fauci Says

Before fully reopening the country, the United States should double testing for the coronavirus, which should be possible.

By Carolyn Crist

April 27, 2020 -- Before fully reopening the country, the United States should double testing for the coronavirus, which should be possible, a White House Coronavirus Task Force member said Saturday.

The U.S. completes about 1.5 to 2 million tests per week and needs twice that in the upcoming weeks, said Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci spoke on a "COVID-19 Update" panel during the National Academy of Sciences annual meeting online.

"We probably should get up to twice that as we get into the next several weeks, and I think we will," he said, referring to diagnostic testing specifically.

A large percentage of positive tests among those who have been tested could mean more testing is needed, Fauci said. About 10% or less should be positive if there is enough testing, he said, and the U.S. is currently seeing a positive rate of about 20%.

Testing should "get those who are infected out of society so that they don't infect others," Fauci said.

At the same time, Fauci emphasized that testing is "an important part" but "not the only part" and that isolating cases and conducting contact tracing is important as well.

"We don't want to get fixated on how many tests you need," he added. The U.S. will need "enough tests to respond to the outbreaks that will inevitably occur as you try and ease your way back into the different phases."

Fauci talked about the three-phase federal guidelines to reopen the country and the need to move slowly through each phase.

"Any attempt to leapfrog over these almost certainly will result in a rebound, and we could set ourselves back," he said. "If we don't get control of it, we will never get back to normal. I know we will, but we've got to do it correctly."

Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD.

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SOURCE: WebMD, April 27, 2020.