Here's Why Bill Gates Just Slammed COVID-19 Tests as a "Complete Waste"
The Microsoft founder had harsh words for the current COVID testing process.
Effective testing of the coronavirus lies at the heart of mitigating the spread of COVID-19, and numerous reports have surfaced recently that there are one- or even two-week delays in getting results back. Now, Microsoft founder Bill Gates is sharing his thoughts on those growing U.S. COVID-19 testing delays. During an interview with CNBC's Squawk Box on July 28, host Andrew Ross Sorkin asked what sort of advice Gates would give to President Donald Trump as the country sees a surge of new COVID-19 infections. Gates jumped in, saying that the delays that many are seeing in getting test results back is making those tests "a complete waste."
"This thing where you wait more than three days, sometimes seven days, to get a test, nobody should pay a dollar for that. That's insane," Gates said. "And so all these numbers about how much we test, the majority is just complete waste," he added.
"You need to get [the result] back as soon as possible so that somebody can change their behavior, so they're not infecting other people," Gates explained. The former director of the CDC Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, also addressed this testing issue earlier this month, noting in a post on LinkedIn: "Tests that take more than 48 hours to come back are of little value."
Why? Getting timely results is a crucial component of effective contract tracing. Without being able to identify positive cases, isolate them, and asking their close contacts to quarantine as well, the virus will continue to spread.
The CDC explains the contact tracing process as "identifying people who have an infectious disease (cases) and people who they came in contact with (contacts) and working with them to interrupt disease spread."
This means asking people with COVID-19 to isolate for 10 days after the onset of symptoms, according to new guidelines from the CDC, as well as asking their contacts to quarantine at home for 14 days, the CDC advises. Of course, this only works if test results are returned on a timely basis.
The nation's leading public health experts are also concerned about these delays. Anthony Fauci, MD, called test result delays the biggest flaw in the coronavirus testing process in a recent appearance on CNN. "The time frame from when you get a test to the time you get the result back is sometimes measured in a few days," Fauci said on July 21. "If that's the case, it kind of negates the purpose of the contact tracing." And if you think you could have the virus, check out The Single Most Reliable Sign You Have COVID-19, Research Shows.