Former FDA Commissioner Warns Waiting For “Optimal” Testing Capacity Before Reopening Simply “Not Possible”

Monday, April 20, 2020
By Paul Martin

by Tyler Durden
Mon, 04/20/2020

There’s no question that countries across the world are going to need to make hard choices and difficult judgment calls in the coming weeks and months as they confront the unavoidable fact that staying on lockdown until mass testing and even in many cases (such as in the US) mass contact tracing becomes possible simply isn’t realistic.

While AOC, Bernie and their democratic socialist followers would love it if the Treasury printed $20 trillion in paper, money to be immediately monetized by the Fed, to allow every American to stay home and stay eating – and, ideally, stay safe from the virus – until September.

What they don’t realizes is that such an unprecedented experiment in MMT would leave the country’s fate up to the whims of the financial markets. A simple spike in interest rates could transform the US into Venezuela faster than 99% of Americans probably think possible. These types of frictions also raise the risk of sudden, massive food-price inflation, the return of even more breadlines, and general unrest and chaos that could lead to far more generalized harm and loss of life than the virus would cause by itself.

Given the current state of global affairs, it’s not difficult to game out how things could get apocalyptic pretty quickly, especially in developed countries like the US which, ironically, are less equipped because their citizens have absolutely no survival skills (though this of course doesn’t apply to everybody: there are large swaths of the US, in the farm belt and hunter-friendly red states, where surviving off the land might be a feasible option). If that truck doesn’t arrive with the next day’s goods, people in most towns will go hungry. Full stop.

This is why, as former FDA head Scott Gottlieb warned Monday that the US likely won’t have the capability to carryout mass testing until September (despite the fact Gov. Cuomo has promised to start rolling out random antibody testing this week).

“We’re not going to be there. We’re not going to be there in May, we’re not going to be there in June, hopefully we’ll be there by September,” Gottlieb said during an appearance on NBC’s “The Today Show”.

As more Democratic governors join the chorus of critics accusing the Trump Administration of failing to provide enough tests to safely reopen their economies, Gottlieb’s comments are the latest from a former ‘impartial’ government scientist suggesting that mass testing isn’t a requirement for reopening.

Dr. Fauci has already made this point during White House press briefings.

While many Americans remain anxious about reopening the economy too early, Gottlieb said that many states that haven’t seen high rates of penetration by the virus are probably ready to start rolling back some of the closures and stay at home orders.

The US may not have the optimal amount of tests and capacity for contact tracing, but waiting until later this year for a train that might never come simply isn’t realistic, Gottlieb said. However, the lockdown has probably been adequate at this point to greatly reduce unnecessary deaths and infections – in other words, as we noted last night, developed economies have at least made progress toward “flattening the curve.”

Setting the question of testing aside, Gottlieb said that the US likely won’t be able “to do the work of tracking down everyone who is sick, or who might have been in contact with people who [are] sick.” But even Singapore and South Korea didn’t succeed in tracking down every one.

“It’s a risk, there’s no question it’s a risk,” he said. “I mean, we won’t have the testing that we want until September, I think, in terms of kind of broad coverage. You’re still going to see high positivity rates heading into May.”

But waiting until the fall just won’t be possible “from an economic, social or public health standpoint.”

“If we wait until we have sort of the optimal framework for testing, we’ll be waiting until the fall and that’s just not going to be possible from an economic, social or public health standpoint,” he said.

Gottlieb’s comments come as some states take steps to reopen their economies this week following a three-phase plan from the White House recommending that governors should do so in stages.

However, this doesn’t mean the US should just give up on expanding its testing capacity. Gottlieb says he hopes the US will be able to manage testing roughly 1% of the population on a weekly basis come September,

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