Don’t waste coronavirus tests on those already showing symptoms. There’s a smarter way.

The Extinction Chronicles

The virus that causes COVID-19 can circulate in our bodies unnoticed for days. Testing the symptom-free is key to breaking the chain of transmission.

Dr. Jeremy Samuel Faust and Dr. Harlan Krumholz
Opinion contributors

Universal testing in the United States may be on the way, but it is not around the corner. Acknowledging that regrettable reality means that, in the meantime, we have to decide how to allocate wisely our scarce testing resources. Unfortunately, with limitations on testing we seem to be testing the wrong people for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Most authoritative sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommend testing people with symptoms. Though that sounds reasonable, it leads to squandering our testing resources on people who we already know are probably infected. Moreover, with high false negative rates from some of the tests, even a negative test in someone with…

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