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When the federal government failed to provide COVID-19 tests, the private sector stepped up

Jul 20, 2020 by AFP

The most important thing we need right now to fight COVID-19 is the ability to test people for the disease, Dr. Jeffrey Singer, a general surgery specialist in Phoenix, says in a new video for Americans for Prosperity’s Health Care Reimagined campaign.

Unfortunately, when it mattered most, the federal regulators in charge of testing failed. The FDA crippled the ability of private companies to create their own tests, allowing only the CDC to create a test for COVID-19. That test was flawed.

Federal regulators put all our eggs in one basket — and dropped it.

Americans were stuck with the mess. We simply didn’t have the ability to test enough people for the coronavirus when we needed to most. When it became clear that our federal bureaucracies couldn’t produce the tests we needed, the FDA opened the door to private testing.

“During the pandemic, the FDA relaxed many of the rules making it easier for private companies to jump in — and they brought us many COVID-19 testing kits,” says Dr. Singer.

Many companies were able to develop both saliva-based and finger-prick blood tests for COVID-19, giving us a better idea of where the virus was concentrated, which allowed us to target our efforts. BD, a medical device company, was recently granted emergency authorization from the FDA to launch a portable coronavirus antigen test.

The test, which is roughly the size of a cellphone, allows medical providers to examine patients showing symptoms in about 15 minutes. To bring this device to market, all government had to do was step out of the way.

When the COVID-19 pandemic is over, America shouldn’t revert to the old way, says Dr. Singer, speaking of the FDA and CDC’s top-down approach. “We should keep those streamlined regulations in place so that people can get the tests they need in a much more rapid fashion.”

Join the Health Care Reimagined campaign to learn more about the barriers to better care, including telemedicine regulationshealth care rulesscope-of-practice regulationsFDA red tape, and medical licensing.