We need a Covid DEW Line

Public health experts and politicians are suggesting that we can see a point when restrictions could relax. But any relaxation must be careful and measured, quickly reversible if COVID reappears.  Everyone maintains that wide scale testing is a key to controlling the reopening of the economy.

Most of the proposed approaches, such advocated by Harvard University  see mass testing, detailed contact tracing, and isolation of those testing positive.  But is this enough?

In the 1950’s as the Cold War intensified, the Canadian and American military staffed about 60 radar stations in the Arctic to detect Soviet bombers.  Known as the DEW Line (Distant Early Warning), the intent was to provide timely warning of an impending nuclear attack.  With COVID-19 we need a “dew” line to alert us before cases appear in hospital and we must to play catch-up again.

A COVID-19 DEW line has two components: testing widely in the general population, both for the presence of the virus and for the presence of antibodies; and, a strategy for efficiently deploying a testing program across the population.  On both fronts, we have some considerable distance to go.

 

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