Federal Government Goofs Delayed Coronavirus Tests By 6-8 Weeks. On his regular podcast Dr. Steven Goldstein described how failures within the federal government delayed proper testing for the Coronavirus/Covid-19 virus by several weeks. The outcome? Tracking and tracing the infection early in the process was impossible. The Houston Healthcare Initiative Podcast is available on SoundCloud, iHeartRadio,LibSyn, Spotify, iTunes, Radio.com, Stitcher, ListenNotes, Podcast Addict, or the Houston Healthcare Initiative web site.
Early Kit Troubles
Early in the testing process the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent Coronavirus/Covid-19 test kits to approximately 100 health labs across the country. Initially the FDA had done all the testing in in-house, but more cases meant that tests had to be available in more locations. There was just one, very important mistake and that was there was no way to validate the tests and its ingredients all acted the same way when used, regardless of the location.
Thirty-six of the approximately 50 tests returned results to the FDA that were ‘inconclusive’. Manufacture of new ingredients for the tests took 3 weeks. The failure to get working test kits into public-health labs came at a really bad time. Early in any outbreak, contact tracing, isolation, and individual quarantines are used to contain the spread of disease. These steps don’t work when suspected cases cannot be tested. The gap made by the bad test kits made it impossible for public-health officials to get a read on how far and fast the disease was spreading. The result, Covid-19 spread undetected for several weeks. “The government was not prepared when it came to identifying and quarantining contacts of the first patients and preventing sick patients from entering the country,” Dr. Goldstein told his listeners. “Government bureaucracy delayed the development of laboratory tests for 6-8 weeks.”
Worse still, when an Emergency Use Application (EUA) test was sent via email and followed up with phone calls from the University of Washington Virology Lab to the FDA for approval, the applicants learned that U.S. law required a hard copy of the applications be sent with a CD or thumb drive via the U.S. Postal Service to be considered. Instead of using more advanced communications like e-mail the lab was forced to use ‘snail mail’. (The F.D.A. has since dropped the requirement to send a CD-rom or USB drive with a copy of the application).
Bureaucrats Want More Power Not Less
According to Dr. Goldstein, issues like this have more to do with the bureaucratic class maintaining its influence than protecting the public or any devotion to science. “People ensconced in government bureaucracy want to preserve their authority and it seems that they are willing to take drastic measures to preserve that power,” Dr. Goldstein said. “These people are very invested in expensive, high tech treatments. Low tech measures like contact tracing and quarantining and testing anyone entering the country could have controlled the epidemic early on.” One possible lesson from this is to remember that government takeover of any health crisis will persist long past any benefit is exhausted. Finding ways around these career government employees should be part of any proposed reform for the healthcare industry.
About the Houston Healthcare Initiative
Dr. Steven Goldstein is a Houston based neurologist. He founded the Houston Healthcare Initiative and is an advocate for common sense solutions to the healthcare crisis that confronts the citizens and residents of the United States of America. Federal Government Goofs Delayed Coronavirus Tests By 6-8 Weeks.