Have you wondered how nasal swabs and blood tests will make restaurants and stadiums safe again? They can't. It's been more than two months of endless opinions and a lot of misinformation on how to protect yourself from Covid-19 punctuated recently by countless voices pleading to get our lives back. Yet, in these past few months, our tools haven't changed - masks, hand sanitizer and 6-foot separation. It will take time to learn everything about this virus, but time is precious. We need a new tool, and we need it now. We need a method to see who's shedding the virus whether they're sick or not, and, more importantly, an easy way to see who's not contagious. This short article describes an unobtrusive solution that no one is talking about but should be. Unless we want to revisit these same concerns this fall, we have to start this discussion now and ask, no demand someone develop the protections we so desperately need.
Testing Alone May Open The Economy But It Won’t Give Us Our Lives Back
MD Minnetonka, Minnesota
April 14, 2020
This invisible enemy will always be terrifying and deadly, as long as it remains unseen. Test kits can identify people who have had contact with Covid-19, but they don't tell us who is actively shedding the virus. Negative today, but what about tomorrow? Evidence also suggests that up to 30% of negative tests are wrong, meaning these people have the virus, may be shedding and don't even know it.
Reopening our economy with the current tools though possible, is risky and demands extraordinary vigilance, including expectations that large numbers of people will get sick again. It also requires that we restructure the entire restaurant and entertainment industries, abandon sports, and alter fundamental social interactions such as dating and family gatherings. All because we can't see who is actively shedding this virus. There has to be a better way.
The answer is a scarf. Not just any scarf, but one that functions like a pregnancy test, but for Covid-19. If the wearer is shedding virus, monoclonal antibodies, enzymes and amplifiers in the material, or in a different medium sewn into the fabric, stain the scarf. If the scarf stays clean, the wearer is not shedding virus. With this simple and inexpensive detector, economical given the enormous number needed, we can safely bring our enemy into the light. And now that we can see it, we can fashion appropriate defenses.
No doubt, ancillary devices will be employed at entrances to large gatherings and restaurants, possibly breathalyzers based on the same technologies. Still, we can't underestimate the value of this unique scarf. Socially, it will allow people to interact confidently without fear of getting sick, and without a mask. Economically, industries and businesses that relied on social interplay and are, for the most part, dead in the water can flourish once again with only minor adjustments. Medically, this approach will dramatically reduce the contagion and not only alert carriers to their current condition so they can don a mask and seek treatment but also let them see their stains disappear over time. An added benefit is that swapping antibodies would work for influenza and the next big one sure to come someday.
There is no way to prepare for the hundred-year flood. It happens, you survive, and when the worst is over, you manage the damage and rebuild. Though still in survival mode, we have an opportunity to mitigate the mayhem with the right tools. For a viral pandemic, a simple, unobtrusive method to identify people shedding the virus and more significant to our way of life, recognize those who aren't may be the most effective instrument. With 7 billion people and the world's economies at risk, I can't think of any reason we shouldn't put this scarf on the fast track. Can you?