As Ontario, Canada prepares to open schools for children in September, Ontario’s Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe warned against mass testing for the COVID-19 China coronavirus, saying it takes resources from other needed areas and does not “actually achieve anything.” Dr. Yaffe also said that in areas with low incidences of COVID infection, the rate for false positive test results is “almost half.”
Yaffe said testing should be reserved for suspected cases, people with symptoms and their contacts.
“You know, I think a lot of people think that testing is going to really solve the whole problem, and it isn’t. It’s one component of a response. If you test somebody today, uh, you only know if they’re infected today. And in fact if you’re testing in a population that doesn’t have very much COVID, you’ll get false positives almost half the time. That is the person actually doesn’t have COVID, they have something else, they may have nothing. Uh, so it will just complicate the picture.”
“On the other hand, if we have evidence of a case, even a suspect case in a school, all the contacts of that case be it a child or teacher would be tested. Regardless of whether they’re symptomatic or not. That is something we’ve learned with COVID, it’s very important to do that. That is when we might be identifying people who are asymptomatic and infected that need to um, stay home and uh, wait ’til they’re cleared by Public Health. Doing testing on all the teachers would be a huge amount of resources taken away from the need for quick, um, access to testing when somebody may be symptomatic.”
“We also need to do screening for symptoms. And everybody needs to be educated about the symptoms to look for and not go to work if you’re sick, go, not go to school if you’re sick. Those are the things that are important along with hand washing, distancing, masking, all the things we’re talking about. Testing will not actually achieve anything other than take resources away from other places they need to be.”
Transcribed by TGP.
Video by CTV News:
Ontario Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe says mandatory COVID-19 testing for teachers “will just complicate the picture.” Read more: https://t.co/cTl1NMZYqQ pic.twitter.com/DeLVmsyZ4N
— CTV News (@CTVNews) July 30, 2020
Longer version by Global News with comments on the need for children to be in school:
Mass testing in the United States is causing lengthy delays in getting test results back in time for when they might actually be useful.
One example is NPR reporter Susan Davis who got her test result from the Washington, D.C. government after a 28 day wait:
Finally received my (negative) COVID test results from the DC government today…28 days after I took the test.
— Susan Davis (@DaviSusan) July 30, 2020
In New York City, Patch reporter Maya Kaufman is still waiting for her test result after nine days:
I recently got tested at the CORE site in Astoria, which sent my test to a Quest lab. It’s been 9 days, no results yet.
— Maya Kaufman (@mayakauf) July 31, 2020
Journalist Rachel Feltman says she just git her test result after seventeen days:
I finally got a negative covid test result back 17 days later!!!! Very useful!!! What would I even do with a positive result at this point? Just panic for another 17 days waiting to confirm I wasn’t positive anymore? Great stuff. Functional country. Very normal.
— Rachel Feltman (@RachelFeltman) July 31, 2020
President Trump has drawn much criticism for saying he thinks the U.S. tests too much. Perhaps he has a point.