The stubborn conviction that coronavirus testing regimes will only succeed if they are combined with major government hand-holding has been in evidence again this week. This time, it is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reminding us of the paternalism that still stands in the way of fighting the second wave of disease. On Tuesday, the agency took the welcome step of authorizing an at-home COVID test on an emergency basis, but insisted on requiring that people get a prescription from a health-care provider in order to get their hands on one of the kits.
The major benefit of at-home tests is that they are so simple and accessible, anyone can use them at any time, with no doctor’s appointments or waiting in line at clinics required. Have a sore throat and wondering if you should go into work? Nip into your bathroom, swab your own nose with a kit you’ve been keeping in your medicine cabinet, then within a half-hour, learn from a cute little cartridge whether you have coronavirus — and isolate or venture out into the world accordingly.
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