Let's Make Covid Testing Part of Our Morning Routine
Bloomberg Businessweek|October 18 - 25, 2021
A Harvard immunologist champions low-cost, at-home rapid tests to beat the pandemic
Emma Court and Jason Gale

On a sunny Monday in mid-September, scientist Michael Mina sits down at his desk at Harvard for the first time since the pandemic began. It’s been so long that, through the window behind him, an entire gleaming 11-story building has sprung up. A neglected office plant is brown and withering, and a stack of scientific journals nearby date to February and March 2020.

The 37-year-old epidemiologist, immunologist, and physician says it didn’t have to be this way: Workplaces, schools, event spaces, and more that have been desolate for better than a year could have stayed open—and safely—with a technology that’s been here all along. Mina has long been a tireless champion of inexpensive, do-it-yourself SARS-CoV-2 antigen tests that can return a positive or negative result in about 15 minutes, arguing for their wider deployment in op-ed articles, on Twitter, and in conversations with health authorities.

The idea is that when used widely and frequently, the detectors, similar to a home pregnancy test, could stop outbreaks before they begin. Countries such as Germany and the U.K. have invested heavily in the tests, making them available cheaply or even free. Others, including the U.S., have stuck with a more sensitive laboratory test that often must be administered by trained personnel and can take days to return results, depending on the lab’s processing capacity.

“I’ve just been banging the drum about this really simple tool that, frankly, could have prevented the outbreaks of last winter,” says Mina. “It could have—especially when we had no vaccines—saved hundreds of thousands of lives.”

Rapid testing may finally be having its moment. Even in countries with plenty of vaccine supply, policymakers are coming to the realization that shots alone might not be enough to stop the virus, especially its more infectious delta variant. President Joe Biden said on Sept. 9 that he would spend $2 billion on 280 million rapid tests, and his administration announced an additional $1 billion purchase this month—part of a group of measures that officials say should quadruple the number available for home use by December. It’s not enough, but it’s a start, Mina says.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEKView All

A Crash Course in Omicronomics

Sussing out the impact of the new coronavirus variant on growth and inflation

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 06, 2021

The New Fighter At the CFPB

Rohit Chopra wants to know more about tech companies’ plans for financial products

5 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 06, 2021

Next on Your Plate: Bug Burgers

The faux-meat industry is starting to explore fruit fly patties and mealworm nuggets

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 06, 2021

Ready Aim Omicron!

Drugmakers always knew variants would arise. The latest will test their preparedness

5 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 06, 2021

Crossing Borders With Crypto

A Mexico-based startup says it can send remittances from the U.S. cheaper and faster

5 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 06, 2021

Treasure Hunters Of the Stalled Supply Chain

For salvage companies, an unclaimed shipping container is a potentially profitable mystery box

6 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 06, 2021

In the EV Age, Hyundai Still Has High Hopes for Hydrogen Cars

The South Korean automaker sees fuel-cell technology as key to decarbonizing global transportation

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 06, 2021

The Next Accounting Fiasco

Twenty years after Enron’s failure, investors are still vulnerable to corporate numbers games

5 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 06, 2021

When Same-Day Delivery Is Too Slow

Gopuffis trying to outrace its competitors in the “dark convenience store” business

6 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 06, 2021

The Most Broken Business in America

Biden’s Build Back Better plan may make day care more affordable for parents—if the providers don’t go belly up first

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
November 22 - 29, 2021
RELATED STORIES

The Eye of the Beholder

Brazilian fashion and beauty star Camila Coelho tells us how she achieved success her way

4 mins read
Maxim
September - October 2021

The Fresh-Faced Veteran

Youn Yuh-jung’s heart-shattering performance in Minari is likely to get an Oscar nod. She’s been doing this too long to care.

10+ mins read
New York magazine
March 1-14, 2021

HOBBIT FORMING

This team dedicated ten years to building Middle-earth in MINECRAFT

4 mins read
PC Gamer US Edition
March 2021

Life of Agony

GUITARIST JOEY ZAMPELLA TALKS MELODIC SOLOS, HIS UNUSUAL APPROACH TO RECORDING AND THE SOUND OF SCARS, THE VENERABLE ALT-METALLERS’ COMPELLING SEQUEL TO THEIR 1993 DEBUT, RIVER RUNS RED

2 mins read
Guitar World
August 2020

Mineral County: WANDERINGS

Chance Encounter Creates Opportunity to Mine for Variscite in Nevada

8 mins read
Rock&Gem Magazine
July 2020

DEEP DIVE

IN OTHER WATERS lets you explore a beautiful and mysterious alien ocean.

3 mins read
PC Gamer US Edition
July 2020

Rampant Reds relish easy win over clueless Gunners

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp called the 4-0 demolition of Arsenal yesterday “an impressive result” as his side returned to winning ways.

3 mins read
The Independent
November 21, 2021

CCTV captured suspects behind Jangpura killings

Delhi Police have found a 45-second CCTV clip that captured the five alleged suspects outside the K-block house in Jangpura Extension where two women were found dead on Monday.

2 mins read
Hindustan Times Delhi
November 17, 2021

Myanmar junta open to working with world: Ex-US envoy

He cites humanitarian aid as one area, as visit to country draws flak

3 mins read
The Straits Times
November 10, 2021

GOTHIC WHITBY

Yorkshire’s pretty fishing port is popular with tourists – but the town has a dark side. Explore misty ruins, whispers of witches, strange tragedies and a legendary vampire with Karen Ruffles

7 mins read
BBC Countryfile Magazine
November 2021