How the Government Timidly Stood in the Way of COVID-Fighting Innovations
“Are We Much Too Timid in the Way We Fight Covid-19?” asks New York Times columnist Ezra Klein in today’s paper. When it comes to developing and distributing tests and vaccines, we have indeed been too timid—not by choice, but because bureaucrats forced us to be.
The first big bureaucratic failure occurred when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) insisted that state public health agencies use a COVID-19 diagnostic test it developed. For about two months, the government forbade biotech companies and academic laboratories from developing and deploying their own tests. But the CDC test was so flawed that it was useless, and the undetected virus spread widely. Contrast that with the public health authorities in South Korea, who worked with private companies to develop and deploy a COVID-19 diagnostic test within a week after the first 4 cases had been detected.
In March 2020, I urged that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) get out of the way of at-home COVID-19 testing, which private companies were already developing that month. Instead, the agency ordered them to stop and to destroy the patient samples they had collected. It took the FDA until December to finally get around to approving a supposedly over-the-counter at-home COVID-19 antigen diagnostic test—and it’s still unavailable to consumers. And yesterday, that’s right, yesterday, the FDA approved two more over-the-counter at-home COVID-19 diagnostic tests.
Thanks to the unprecedentedly rapid roll out of various COVID-19 vaccines, the end of the pandemic is in sight, at least for rich countries like the United States. On the positive side, these clinical trials were developed in less than a year—compared to an average of 10.7 years for earlier vaccines. But the rollout could have been so much faster.
Moderna devised the recipe for its COVID-19 vaccine in just two days, and the company injected it into the first volunteer on March 16, 2020. But FDA bureaucrats insisted that the vaccine makers follow the usual path of Phases 1, 2, and 3 clinical trials for testing safety and efficacy. It would have made much more sense to authorize human challenge trials, in which young vol
Article from Latest – Reason.com