Letter: Let science, not politics, guide public health policy

Regarding the Bette Grande opinion piece published Sept. 5, I think it important to make a major distinction on Dr Michael Mina’s position on PCR testing and false positives.

First, I am admittedly only a concerned citizen with no scientific training but equally qualified to comment on matters of public health as Ms. Grande. Since the inception of COVID-19, I’ve discovered “This Week In Virology,” a long-form podcast that closely follows developing information from a scientist perspective featuring virologists, immunologists, and clinicians. Specifically, episode 640 features Dr Michael Mina and his position on PCR testing versus his idea of lowering the infection threshold and shifting public health practice to develop and implement an inexpensive daily saliva based testing for every person.

While Mina’s position is that PCR testing is indeed overly sensitive, incredibly slow and creates an increased risk of false positives; Grande leaves out an important distinction.

Given a now politicized but ill-founded CDC testing stance (only test if exhibiting symptoms), coupled with too infrequent testing and a COVID-19 infectious window that can can be one to five days prior to symptoms presenting (if at all) and overly sensitive methods renders current pubic testing efforts relatively ineffective. Moreover, the heart of Mina’s argument is that he is very strongly advocating for lower-threshold inexpensive daily saliva-based testing for every person, effectively casting a much wider net.

Global pandemics are indeed inconvenient, but there is a science-based logical path forward for a return to normalcy. In sum, we need to be inexpensively testing everyone every single day with a lower threshold for infections and let science be our guide to public health policy and public event decisions including schooling, not politics and election-season posturing.

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