A Simple Solution to the Coronavirus Crisis?
The economic cost of the coronavirus crisis to countries is mounting. In NZ's case, $100 billion is so far expected to be added onto our public debt, corresponding to around 30 percentage points of GDP. According to one of the biggest names in US economics, Professor John Cochrane at Stanford University, there maybe a way out. He writes:
"Yes, I'm repeating myself, but maybe if we just try over and over again we'll get through. We could stop this disease now with tests. Vaccines are just a tool to stop disease transmission. Widespread, cheap frequent tests are just as effective a tool to stop disease transmission".
He references an epidemiologist and expert in disease testing, Michal Mina, at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who is calling for a shift in strategy toward a cheap, daily, do-it-yourself test that he says can be as effective as a vaccine at interrupting coronavirus transmission. Mina reports that the paper-strip tests have already been developed and their shotgun approach to testing - cheap and widespread - currently provide the only viable option for a quick return to the workplace, classroom, and other venues.
He adds that the current test-and-trace strategy, which uses a high-accuracy, laboratory-processed test, is well-suited to detecting individual infections as a prelude to medical treatment. But its high cost and slow turnaround time make it ineffective for the broader goal of curbing transmission in the community. See: