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Limited Rapid Testing

Rapid tests for COVID-19 can be hard to come by in the US but are a key part of pandemic response in other parts of the world, the New York Times writes.

It notes that people in the UK, Germany, and France have easy access to cheap antigen tests that have quick turnaround times, while in the US, people usually undergo PCR testing, which is processed by a lab and results can take more than 24 hours. The Times adds that the lack of cheap, rapid tests in the US is in part due Food and Drug Administration requirements that rapid tests show they are just about as sensitive as PCR tests — which they are not — even though they can still detect about 98 percent of infectious cases.

According to the Times, President Joe Biden is seeking an expansion to rapid COVID-19 testing in the US as part of his COIVD action plan, but experts say it might not be enough. "The recognition by the president that this is a tool we haven't been using yet, and we should be using, is a massive step forward," Harvard's Michael Mina tells the Times. But he adds that "it's woefully inadequate."

"Testing," Mina notes there, "is how we end this pandemic without disrupting society."