The biggest bottleneck with Covid19 right now is rapid testing and centralized reporting. If we can fix that then we can start to reopen “parts of the quarantine”.
Most data points to the fact that people who are suffering or dying from Covid19 are those who have preexisting medical conditions or poor immunity (old, infirm, etc.).
That is likely between 5% to about 15% of the population. (source)
The rest of the people would likely suffer mild to no symptoms from CoVid.
Instead of allowing them to go about their lives, everyone’s life is being disrupted to ensure the 5-10% dont die.
In no way am I implying that the 5-10% be dammed. In fact we should take more precautions to ensure they are safe. Quarantine them, provide extra medical attention, support and safety.
If we had a quick (say < 15 minutes) way to test Covid and an easy way to aggregate the data and report it to local, regional or central authorities, then those who dont test positive could be allowed to go on with their lives.
So how does this play out?
Imagine 5-10 startups that are all innovating on “rapid test” with reagents from your home. They send you a kit (pack of 12 test kits), you take the test and test results are uploaded to a service via your phone. If the test is positive, you have to quarantine. If the test is negative, you can go to “work” or elsewhere. Assume the tests will be valid for some short period – maybe a day if you are in a high exposure role (e.g. nurse) or once a week if less so (e.g. software developer). This sounds simpler than it is, but bear with me for the sake of argument.
Each kit comes with its own app to upload results, and they are all reporting their aggregate and specific data to local government.
Now public health and other officials know who is and who is not infected and can provide “discerning guidance”, instead of a diktat for the entire population.
Now to the next question: How do we ensure that those that don’t test positive infect those who are old / infirm / or with poor immunity?
More than ever we need the strong and able bodied to help those who are unable.
So the precautions that are recommended by physicians and medical professionals apply more to those that are infirm that those for who this is “like a flu”.
Wash your hands, use masks are all good recommendations regardless of whether you test positive or not. Everyone should take those recommendations.
Having everyone have their lives upended is hard for 85% – 90% of the population.
Only rapid testing can solve that for now.
Thanks to Bal for helping me think through this.