N&O: Random testing could help North Carolina better fight COVID-19
Raleigh, N.C. — Take a look at the below News & Observer editorial endorsing random sample testing.
Leaders are making decisions without reliable data on COVID-19’s real prevalence in the population and true fatality rate. The only way to fix that is to immediately conduct random sample testing to scientifically estimate how many people have COVID-19, and then to conduct antibody tests as soon as practicable to estimate how many people had the virus.
“One way to assess which course is right for North Carolina is to launch broad random testing for the new coronavirus. Those results will help state officials estimate how far and fast the disease is spreading and how many are infected without symptoms. Eventually, new tests still being developed may show how many have had the disease and perhaps have acquired immunity.
“Among those advocating random testing is state Sen. Andy Wells (R-Catawba). In a statement issued Monday, he said: ‘Random sampling is a proven method of accurately measuring large populations and has been utilized for decades to inform all manner of decisions in both public and private spheres.’
“Wells noted a recent commentary by John P.A. Ioannidis, professor of medicine and professor of epidemiology and population health at Stanford University School of Medicine. Writing in the science and medicine journal STAT, Ioannidis said, “The most valuable piece of information for answering those questions would be to know the current prevalence of the infection in a random sample of a population and to repeat this exercise at regular time intervals to estimate the incidence of new infections. Sadly, that’s information we don’t have.”