Pyrmonter on Low-cost COVID testing

One of the less inspiring aspects of the Covid-19 experience has been the rapid resort to orthodoxies.  In one tribe we see ‘lock down for the common good forever (I stand with Dan)’; for another ‘anyone who wears a facemask is a timid coward’, or worse.  In the field of public policy, no government dare experiment, lest it be seen to ‘fail’: with the consequence that authorities are both risk-averse and evasive about their true intentions.  While this might be dismissed as nothing more than round 537 in the ‘Culture Wars’, one consequence is a lack of substantial but critical attention being given to alternative means of achieving similar policy goals.

Most on the Cat I am sure think that higher national income is to be preferred to lower income.  So it is interesting to see a paper linked on Marginal Revolution outlining (albeit conjecturally) an alternative to the poles of lockdown or open-slather: a system of frequent, low cost screening: an idea first promoted by Kotlikoff in March which the authors plausibly suggest would be that most unusual of public policy measures, self-funding.  While I’m sure many will disagree that their goal can be achieved, it is something that should be discussed, and preferably before parts of Australia ever enter upon a 4-month mandated lockdown.

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7 Responses to Pyrmonter on Low-cost COVID testing

  1. HGS

    Good idea, if it is your choice, like going to the doctor, get yourself tested, you pay.
    If it is compulsory, big bad idea.
    Testing does nothing to hinder the spread of a virus.
    Generally, large scale immunity is the is the trusted method.

  2. AussieUte

    Am aware of an Aussie development that reduces result time to sub 15 minutes, no pathologist required and at sub $20 a test.

    Contacted both sides in 4 states
    NO response from Labor at all anywhere
    The others all did

    No mates and paper bags involved may be the issue?

  3. C.L.

    There is no rational via media being proposed, that’s true. Sweden’s approach is probably the biggest and best example of an attempt to avoid the extremes you rightly identify as having become political casus belli for the usual old foes. But I don’t see testing regimes – however efficient – as principally important. A cultural transformation will only proceed from official state acknowledgement that coronavirus is preponderantly harmless and that only the most vulnerable should be scrupulously protected. Note that I didn’t say “locked down.” That phrase – and everything it implies about the locked and the lockers – ought to be eradicated.

  4. Nob

    A remote drilling project in South East Asia that I’m waiting on, tried cheap and quick testing.

    (You have to test negative, then be taken by them to their quarantine hotel for two weeks, before going to rig camp)

    1/10 of the cost, and results in hours rather than the 2-5 days of the test regime they were using.

    They got so many false positives that it shut the program down for two weeks, costing them a shitload.

    So now they’re back with the 2-5 days test.

    So this is the kind of experiment that remote operations could run, and maybe we could learn something, maybe not. I don’t know if the company is publishing a study of this recent experience.

  5. Nob

    By the “program”, I mean, “the drilling program” . As in they took any positive tester off the operation, and ended up with no senior drilling people onsite.

  6. Mullumhillbilly

    If the testing and retesting is frequent, and there is some rate of false positives >0, the cumulative impacts will see many in unnecessary quarantine, a defacto lockdown.

  7. a reader

    Compulsory testing is as much a violation of civil liberties as the lockdown bullshit

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