Friday, April 10, 2020

Ending CDC monopoly = better COVID-19 testing

A Government Monopoly Led to Botched COVID-19 Test Kits, but Private Labs Are Now Saving the Day | Foundation for Economic Education - Ben Johnson:

March 16, 2020 - "The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus a global pandemic. As of Friday afternoon, there are 132,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, and the global death toll has topped 5,000 people. The fast-spreading virus claimed 196 lives in Italy, on Tuesday alone....

"As the rampaging virus wields its way around the globe, prevention and early detection are key to limiting its reach.... [But] government regulations needlessly slowed the detection process for weeks. Federal regulations barred any labs outside the federal government from developing a test to diagnose coronavirus. When the CDC sent out its test[s] on February 5, it soon learned many of them were defective. The kits produced false positives. The MIT Technology Review explains: ...
FDA rules initially prevented state and commercial labs from developing their own coronavirus diagnostic tests, even if they could develop coronavirus PCR [Polymerase chain reaction] primers on their own. So when the only available test suddenly turned out to be bunk, no one could actually say what primer sets worked.
"The government reversed course on February 29 and allowed private labs to begin developing their own tests. The results have been spectacular.

"The old tests took two to seven days to process.... Within a matter of days of the government dropping its restriction, the Cleveland Clinic developed a test that delivered results within eight hours. The change is due directly to the 'federal government being responsive by changing those regulations,' said Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, at a press conference on Tuesday. The newly instituted, 'unbelievable waiver system' has increased competition by 'bringing the super-large, high throughput companies into the system'....

"An artificial federal government monopoly on testing produced a faulty kit and slowed progress in detecting and fighting the coronavirus. Socialism is an instituted government monopoly, not just on medicine, but on all economic life. The results are inefficiency, a sterile-sounding word until it means that Americans will lose their lives.

"'The great strength the US has always had, not just in virology, is that we’ve always had a wide variety of people and groups working on any given problem,' Keith Jerome, the head of virology at the University of Washington, told the MIT Technology Review. 'When we decided all coronavirus testing had to be done by a single entity, even one as outstanding as CDC, we basically gave away our greatest strength.'

"The basic economic truth that competition improves results lies at the heart of all human endeavor. The enormity of the coronavirus has driven this truth home in grim and unforgettable ways."

1 comment:

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