To Really Reopen the Economy, At-Home Diagnostic COVID-19 Tests Are Our Best Bet

Making cheap tests widely available would go a long way toward crushing the pandemic.


Testing yourself and your family every day for COVID-19 with a cheap, easy-to-use, 10-minute test could be the game changer for crushing the epidemic and getting everybody safely back to work and play. Widespread deployment of home antigen testing could make this scenario possible.

Right now current infections can only be diagnosed using expensive complicated molecular laboratory tests for the presence of the virus. While some point-of-care diagnostic lab tests have been deployed, most require that samples be sent off-site and generally take at least a day or two to report back results.

Blood tests for antibodies produced by an individual's immune system can tell him or her that they have been infected by the coronavirus in the past even if they had experienced no symptoms. Right now blood samples must be sent off-site to labs for testing, but some companies are working on at-home tests that should be available soon and would give results in minutes. But since antibodies develop about two weeks after infection, tests like these are not particularly useful for preventing future infections.

Antigen testing, however, can solve the problem of obtaining rapid diagnoses at home and at work. A positive test would enable infected people to voluntarily, quickly self-isolate and thus break the chains of infection that are fueling the epidemic. Viral proteins trigger a person's immune system to produce antibodies to trap and destroy them, thus viral proteins are antibody-generators, or, antigens. Antigen tests work by coating a test strip with antibodies specific to coronavirus antigens. The antibodies on the test strip emit a signal such as a color change if they detect the presence of the coronavirus.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the first coronavirus antigen test from the testing company Quidel Corporation earlier this month. It is still a point-of-care test for use by clinics and in doctor's offices that provides results in 15 minutes using one of its 36,000 test machines installed around the country. However, a number of companies including Mologic, OraSure, and E25Bio, are working on antigen self-tests that could cost as little as $1 dollar each and be used at home and at work to detect coronavirus infection within minutes, much like home HIV tests and home pregnancy tests. Antigen tests tend to be less accurate than molecular or blood tests, producing more false negatives. However, frequent repeated testing can uncover the false negatives and thus continue to help break the chains of contagion.

In April, White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx called antigen testing a "breakthrough innovation" that can help "screen large numbers of individuals quickly." Also in April, the National Institutes of Health launched its $500 million Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative in which companies compete to develop diagnostic tests. The goal of RADx is to make millions of new coronavirus tests available by the end of this summer. Using antigen tests is a much faster way to open the economy than waiting on and hoping for an effective vaccine. Deploying them can be achieved in months, not a year to 18 months.

Various plans for how mass testing could keep the epidemic in check have been outlined. For example, Nobel economist Paul Romer and his colleagues have noted how "population-scale testing can suppress the spread of COVID-19" by means of frequent testing. Romer suggests that such testing might cost as much as $100 billion to implement, but adds that the cost pales in comparison to the jobs and trillions lost due to lockdowns. In fact, providing 300 million Americans with at-home test kits costing $1 each for weekly use would cost $15.6 billion. Knowing that their fellow citizens are taking responsibility for their microbes would give people the confidence to venture out of lockdown and return to work, travel, and the pleasures of bars, restaurants, concerts, sporting events, and movies.

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  1. What if I refuse to take the test? Will I be forced into quarantine?

    1. Who are you asking, sweetheart?

      1. I have a habitual fear of the government forcing me to walk into strange rooms. Don’t ask why.

        1. What if they send you a picture first and a nice note saying your new apartment if you dont take the test?

          1. I’d rather send a shabbos goy in first to see if the shower head looks normal and nothing smells like almonds.

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  2. //Testing yourself and your family every day for COVID-19 with a cheap, easy-to-use, 10-minute test could be the game changer for crushing the epidemic and getting everybody safely back to work and play.//

    Testing yourself ever day?

    Fuck you, Bailey.

    1. This is his worst column yet.

      1. Test yourself, and your family, every single day, or …. be denied permission to ever leave the house, or work. And make sure to report your results to the contact tracer assigned to your district.

        Is this what it means to be libertarian today?

        I can’t believe half the shit these morons write.

        1. Wonder which diseases he wants to apply this to? STD tests everytime you have sex? Chest x-rays every time you swim to ensure you dont go through dry drowning? Allergy tests for aspirin before you can purchase?

          1. It depends. Deadly diseases, like COVID-19 or Ebola, should require mandatory testing for potentially infected patients. Lifestyle diseases, like herpes-2 or HIV, should not require testing because we have suitable anti-retrovirals to control transmission and viral loads.

            1. What about hepatitis?

              1. Another lifestyle disease. Heroin users are usually friendly so they share needles.

                1. I mean… some might consider it a lifestyle to eat shit… but not always. The last hep c breakout in San Diego wasnt lifestyle.

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            2. Deadly diseases, like COVID-19 or Ebola,

              So, when we blame and ridicule anti-Vaxxers for being stupid and passive when they should be active, what should we do to you when you, in your own willful stupidity, conflate the need for a passive response with an active one?

              People potentially infected with ebola will be contagious and show symptoms before they test positive. You should isolate, or at least quarantine them before you test them. People with COVID will test positive without ever showing symptoms and, in many cases, quarantining them is more likely to give them the virus.

              Seriously, anti-Vaxxers are, out of ignorance, passively risking their own lives and maybe those of their children. At this point, you’re advocating policies that will knowingly exacerbate the disease because of your idiotic fantasies that reality doesn’t happen to conform to.

              Anti-Vaxxers may be dumb and what they (don’t) do to their children, but what you dumbfuck graduates of the DeBlasio-Cuomo School of Medicine do knowingly is unequivocally evil.

              1. Anti-Vaxxers may be dumb and what they (don’t) do to their children may be morally questionable,

          2. Trouble with reading comprehension? Hint: the article was about COVID-19.

            But, yes, even though Mr. Bailey doesn’t go there, maybe some day the same cool technology could be used for even more at-home tests.

            1. What part of my comment thought I was sticking to just covid. My first sentence even asks where do we extend this to.

              I get not reading the article… but not reading the comment you’re replying to?

              1. Don’t gaslight me, Jesse Honey.

                1. Lol, which part did you struggle with?

        2. Only half?

        3. Goodness gracious me! Are you referring to Mr. Bailey? He didn’t say any such thing.

      2. And, yet, here you are.

        Didn’t you say you are a big important software engineer, with published papers? Does your employer realize you spend all day commenting on articles at some political website (that you don’t even like)?

        1. Wow. Which sock did I make cry this morning. DoL or napkin software engineer? Go look st time stamps sweetie. Wasnt all day.

          And I like the comment section just fine.

          It is amazing how some of you need to change names so much because you know you’re about to say something stupid. At least tulpa admits to his name changes as a form of mockery. You. You’re hiding from something stupid you said earlier.

          1. Alright, I admit it. I’m using name changes as a form of mockery.

            Except this “Little Richard” persona. This one is just for the fun of it.

          2. I mean, like, who doesn’t love Little Richard.

            Oh, that’s right, Geraje. He calls him a “faggot” below. Not cool, Geraje, but shows your true homophobic colors.

        2. Fuck off, Magnitogorsk

        3. You are one sad little fuck.

    2. A real libertarian takes a stand and demands that the lockdowns end now. A real libertarian deplores the very notion that the government has the authority to lock down healthy people. A real libertarian makes these arguments on basic principles alone — before moving on to the utilitarian arguments, which should be ancillary to the central argument.

      What a real libertarian does not do? Grovel at the feet of authoritarians for criteria that will be sufficient to grant permission to pare back the restrictions.

      You, Ronald Bailey, are no libertarian.

      1. Which is fine. You don’t have to be. Just don’t tell us you are and then shovel us shit that proves you aren’t.

      2. Amen.

        Shit. All I could muster was a pathetic “Go fuck yourself, Bailey,” but yea … fuck, all this and more.

        And this is coming from somebody that does not consider himself a libertarian at all.

      3. Charles Koch can’t have sick employees. #MandatoryTesting

      4. It’s time for Reason to face the cold hard fact that 80% of their articles are full blown statist apologies. They can print whatever drivel they want but anyone coming here looking for the libertarian perspective is going to get a pretty inaccurate picture. Since Ron loves science more than liberty he should write for a science mag.

        1. Yea, the problem is that Ron can’t write about science either.

          1. Ah, now we get it — you want his job! That’s why you spend so much time here critiquing his articles: you hope one of the Reason editors will notice you!

            1. Keep white knighting a publication lol. Doesnt make you look pathetic at all.

              1. Me thinks it’s a shit eating squirrel.

                1. I’m leaning towards DoL/Jeff.

                  1. Dumbass either way.

        2. He wrote a pure science article with not one word of policy recommendation. He is Reason’s officials science writer, so he wrote an article in keeping with his job description.

          1. This isn’t science, it’s a political position.

            “Testing yourself and your family every day for COVID-19 with a cheap, easy-to-use, 10-minute test could be the game changer for crushing the epidemic and getting everybody safely back to work and play. “

            1. No, it’s a pure whiz-bang 1950s Popular Science, ain’t-the-future-gonna-be-great statement. All about personal empowerment through science.

              The statist stuff is all in your Bailey-bashing head.

              1. You are either really really dumb or… nope that’s the only option.

                You honestly cant differentiate opinion from “pure science.”

                Definitely napkin software engineer.

                1. Napkin software engineer? What the heck does that even mean?

                  I’m a rock ‘n’ roller. I’m entertaining the angels right now. Hendrix is playing guitar for me again. It’s fabulous!

          2. Retard.

            1. I’m the King (and Queen) of Rock ‘n’ Roll, honey! You are a guy who hangs out at a website he doesn’t like every day bitching about their writers. That is mucho pathetic.

              1. Faggot.

                1. Homophobe. Showing your lack of libertarianism.

        3. Be sure to support Reason Magazine by donating during the next funding campaign. Charlie Koch can’t do it alone!

      5. Nice libertarian virtue signaling, honey! You go, girl! You are really impressing whoever the heck you are trying to impress.

    3. B-b-but mAgIC BuLlEt!

  3. Seriously, Kung Flu goes unnoticed and undiagnosed in most healthy people. Why does it benefit me to be marked as “POSITIVE” or “NEGATIVE” on a government checklist?

    1. Who said anything about a government checklist, dear?

      1. Will it be another free arm tattoo?

  4. To really reopen we should realize life has risks and stop being scared. Protect nursing homes and the elderly and move on.

    1. To really reopen the economy, just say fuck them. There’s more of us anyway. If your default position is that they’re right to do this, I think maybe you and this libertarian magazine might want to consider going your separate ways.

      1. Who’s the “them” in your imprecation?

        1. Canadians.

              1. I win!

        2. Imprecation? Enough with the racist Chinese jokes already!

          1. LMAO

          2. ‘Imprecation’ would be Japanese. Chinese transpose ‘r’ sounds to ‘l’ sounds, Japanese ‘l’ sounds to ‘r’ sounds.

  5. Nope just open it up and let things take their natural course. That’s a real libertarian solution.

  6. equally likely to reopen the economy would be nobody testing and just going to their jobs

  7. At-Home Diagnostic COVID-19 Tests Are Our Best Bet

    Let people test without government control? Unthinkable!!!

    /prog overlords

  8. Testing yourself and your family every day for COVID-19 with a cheap, easy-to-use, 10-minute test could be the game changer for crushing the epidemic and getting everybody safely back to work and play.

    Or, it could get everybody to safely realize the game.

    1. Lol
      Saw that earlier
      Fn monkeys, man

  9. Testing everyone every day is a useless ploy for control it does nothing to prevent the spread when no test will ever exist that can tell you are sick before you become sick. And the asymptomatic transfer has been proven to be false

    1. Could you provide a cite for that? I can find several sources that confirm asymptomatic transfer, but none that show it’s proven to be false.


        Goes through some ripping apart of that now-infamous letter to the NEJM, where it was claimed a Chinese woman was asymptomatic for COVID, yet gave the bug to two German business colleagues during a trip to Germany or Geneva. The idiot doctors who published the letter never interviewed the woman. They went by her colleagues saying, “Well, she didn’t look sick.”

        1. And naturally, when somebody bothered asking her how she felt, she said she had a fever, cough, and felt like shit, but soldiered on because business trip.

        2. So because one study was flawed, the rest are all thrown out too. Confirmation bias strikes again.

          1. These Trumpistas hanging out here are not seriously interested in science. They are into cherry picking whatever studies support Trump.

  10. Um remember that time Flynn lied to the FBI about Russian sanctions?

  11. Fuck. You. Ron.

    We don’t need at home testing to reopen, we just need the government to get off of everyone’s neck like that asshole cop needed to get his knee of of Floyd.

  12. And if you tested positive with a home kit, you would voluntarily quit your job and quarantine yourself for a month?

    Testing won’t be all that effective without tracking. China literally welded people inside their apartments and followed everyone in their phones. Korea was less coercive but they still mandated people taking tests to download apps. That’s a dilemma any libertarian faces in a pandemic. Collectivists may pull out ahead because the state can make unilateral decisions.

    Home kits should be a lifesaver for people wanting to go back to work. Others who are healthy and not showing symptoms might have second thoughts.

    1. If you tested positive for smallpox, or Plague, would you just go to work? Taking action that seems likely to harm other people doesn’t seem to fit in with the “don’t hurt people” part of Libertarianism.

      1. If you tested positive for smallpox, or Plague, would you just go to work?

        Not for long.

      2. I secretly showed up at work with smallpox and you’ll never guess what happened next!

        If you owned a handgun that fired both forward and backward and went off randomly, would you just take it to work? Taking action that seems likely to hurt yourself or others doesn’t seem to fit in with the “don’t hurt people” part of Libertarianism.

        To really reopen the economy we need at home double-ended handgun checks.

        Actually, there are a ton of things more dangerous than double-ended handguns. What really needs to happen is that everyone needs to get everyone else’s written approval before we reopen the economy. Nothing unlibertarian about massive social contracts!

      3. You’d have a point if corona was anywhere near as deadly or horrible as those diseases you mentioned.

        1. Exactly.

      4. Hint: XM and others here, such as JesseAz, are not libertarians. They are Trump fans.

  13. If anybody’s selling, how much will 5 of the ‘false positive’ and 5 of the ‘false negative’ kits for each of COVID, Ebola, Plague, and HIV cost? Also, I’ll take 5 false positive pregnancy tests if you’ve got those too.

    I’ve got some friends and co-workers that need some serious fucking with once the whole ‘no gathering in public spaces’ retardation is over.

    1. No social distancing at the riots.
      Sporadic use of masks too.
      According to Bailey and his ilk, most of the people participating should come down with the ChiRona within 2 weeks…

  14. Just open back up. Vulnerable people, with low immune systems and co-morbidities health wise, should take some precautions. The rest of us get back to normal. Spreading viruses and bacterial flora with normal daily activities. That is how the human race has lasted this long. We do not need to re-invent the wheel. This is not a libertarian leaning or even a logical article!

    1. Mr. Bailey didn’t advocate one damn bit of policy in his article. He described a cool medical technology breakthrough, in keeping with his job as a science reporter. All else is your projection and harping on your hobby horse agenda.

      1. We are dealing with a strong flu and that’s it. The government should not be involved and individuals should test themselves, IF, they want to. Period and end of story. This planet did not get to be over populated due to flu shots and tests.

  15. At home testing everyday? Sounds doable, legit. Elizabeth Holmes is free for the time being, isn’t she?

  16. Hell yes; the best option is a test with a high false NEGATIVE rate.
    (Just this one time, I miss the lung flute dirge)

  17. The economy has to come back quickly or the country will break
    but it has to see if the tests are really reliable

  18. It is a very good approach, But the concern is how much accuracy they can give and also how much they cost. please read my Hindi article

  19. “Various plans for how mass testing could keep the epidemic in check have been outlined.”

    Various plans for how to keep people under the government’s thumb on the pretext of safety have been outlined. Fuck you, Bailey. There’s no epidemic. There’s a fucking flu season with a .26% mortality rate. That’s the overall rate, not the far lower rate for people under 65. Did I say fuck you yet? Fuck you and fuck your testing.

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