Can COVID-19 testing allow us to gather safely for the holidays?

NEW YORK (Reuters) - With families hoping to gather for the holidays, Reuters assembled more than 30 healthcare experts to discuss COVID-19 testing during an #AskReuters Twitter chat. Below are edited highlights

Reuters November 19, 2020 07:10:53 IST
Can COVID-19 testing allow us to gather safely for the holidays?

Can COVID19 testing allow us to gather safely for the holidays

NEW YORK (Reuters) - With families hoping to gather for the holidays, Reuters assembled more than 30 healthcare experts to discuss COVID-19 testing during an #AskReuters Twitter chat.

Below are edited highlights.

What kinds of COVID-19 tests are available now?

“Viral tests tell you if you have an active infection. Genetic (nucleic acid) tests are more accurate than antigen tests. These are used for making a diagnosis of current #COVID-19 infection.”

— Raed Dweik, MD, MBA, chair of Cleveland Clinic's Respiratory Institute

Can people safely rely on test results to socialize?

“You should not rely on test results alone to safely socialize in person. A test can only tell you if you are positive at a given moment in time, and can also fail to detect cases if you are infected but not yet shedding substantial virus.”

— Dr. Angela Rasmussen, virologist affiliated with Georgetown Center for Global Health Science and Security

“Now is the time for delayed gratification. My family pushed back Thanksgiving to the spring and look forward to a safer event at that time.”

— Dr. Joshua Schiffer, associate professor at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

If someone thinks they have been exposed to COVID-19, should they get tested?

“If you think you've been exposed to COVID-19, first protect others by limiting your contact with anyone else as best as you can. Get tested even if you don't have symptoms. And quarantine until you get the results.”

— Heather Pierce, JD, MPH, senior director and regulatory counsel at Association of American Medical Colleges

“Yes! If you think you've been exposed, get tested. Whether or not you have symptoms or are at increased risk, you should get tested if your local testing capacity allows it.”

— Dr. Syra Madad, senior director, Special Pathogens at New York City Health & Hospitals

What are the current successes and failures of testing?

“Despite many bumps in the road, a massive success is the number of tests currently available. It's remarkable that so many have achieved FDA authorization. We continue, however, to struggle to meet testing demand, which requires more reagents and more people.”

— Infectious Diseases Society of America

“To me, the biggest failure is that we are still unable to do what South Korea and Taiwan were able to do in the spring. The failure of testing continues to plague us. Long lines, long turnaround time, lack of reagents.”

— Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security

How can testing be democratized so that everyone has access?

“We need to hardwire equity into our COVID-19 response in terms of access, prioritization and coverage. Essential workers are not prioritized in COVID-19 testing, yet they have the highest exposure.”

— Roopa Dhatt, executive director at Women in Global Health

“Globally, the lack of widespread availability of testing is partly what is resulting in an underestimate of the true burden of this pandemic. A lot more people have had and have died of this disease than have been diagnosed.”

— Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, infectious-diseases physician and associate professor at the Boston University School of Medicine

Can mass testing be used for people to return to “normal”?

“No. Testing does not replace basic prevention measures such as social distancing and wearing masks. Testing negative only means you have no detectable virus at the time of the test.”

— Joe Eisenberg, chair and professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health

“Regardless of testing, we must not abandon at this point the pillars of public health: use of masks, physical distance and frequent hand washing.”

— Dr. Diego Hijano, instructor in the Department of Infectious Diseases at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

What gives you hope?

“I have hope that soon we will have more tools to help us fight the pandemic in the vaccines. However people need to understand they will not magically solve the pandemic but are tools to add to the public health interventions we already have and we need to use them all.”

— Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, infectious disease researcher

“For the first time, I have hope. Interim vaccine data show more than 90% efficacy, as much as measles. By next winter, we will be getting back to normal. By 2022, we will start to socialize. We can’t eradicate COVID-19 but can eliminate it, perhaps by 2023.”

— Lawrence Gostin, director at O'Neill Institute for National & Global Health Law at Georgetown Law

For a recap of the entire Twitter chat, see

(Compiled by Beatrix Lockwood; Editing by Tom Brown)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:


also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.