I’m sorry for the holiday intrusion. However, this information from today’s NYT is worth the effort. Have a nice holiday. J. Harris



BY David Leonhardt

‘’The Covid tests that you take in a doctor’s office or testing center are usually PCR tests, [ANTIBODY] which are designed to identify whether you have any amount of the Covid virus. They can sometimes come back positive even if you had the virus weeks earlier and have not been infectious for a long time…

‘The rapid tests — also known as antigen tests — are designed to tell whether you are infectious. That’s why they are such a powerful public-health tool. They can prevent somebody with the virus from spreading it to others.

‘’The most widely available antigen test seems to be BinaxNOW, from Abbott. You should also feel comfortable using QuickVue, Ellume and Flowflex, among others. If you search for one of these tests online and a website points you to a different brand, do some research. Others can be very expensive…

‘’Both CVS and Walgreens have search engines that let you find tests for sale near you. I recommend calling the store to confirm it still has them in stock — and then immediately going to buy it. A store may limit you to buying one test pack at a time.

‘’ Take one [Antigen test] at the start of every day when you planned to spend time with people outside your household.

‘’… in Britain, pharmacies offer free packs of seven tests that people can take at home. In Germany, rapid tests are also widely available and mostly free. In this country, the situation is different, largely because the F.D.A. has been slow to approve the tests.

‘’ …[In the US] They typically cost about $25 for a pack of two. The combination of their cost and irregular availability means that Americans interested in rapid tests often must make choices about when to use them.

‘’… “It is critically important that you carefully read any instructions for the type of test you are taking, and follow them to the letter…

”You will usually get a result within 15 minutes. Keep in mind that both false negatives and false positives are possible. Antigen tests typically identify 98 percent of infectious cases…

”If you get a positive result, take it seriously, and quarantine yourself until you know more. Ideally, you would try to confirm the result with a PCR test [Antibody] or a second rapid test — from a different brand… If the second is negative and you are vaccinated, you can probably trust the negative.

‘’Because most Americans have limited access to rapid tests, they need to triage their use. The two most important times to take a test are either after you may have been exposed to the virus or before you are spending time with medically vulnerable people, like those in their 70s or older.

‘’,,, prioritizing two groups for rapid testing: people who are not fully vaccinated, like children; and those who have spent more time in settings where they might have been exposed.

‘’By Christmas and New Year, tests should be easier to find than they are this week.’’

J. Harris: For a variety of reasons, the US has not emphasized testing as much as have other countries. Maybe we are too large and too scattered to be organized easily. At any rate, the new push (other than Vaccination) with be to make available and to use TESTS.


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