Dr. Siegel: Vaccine rollout ‘huge accomplishment’ by Trump admin
Fox News Medical Contributor Dr. Marc Siegel joins Brian Kilmeade on ‘Fox & Friends’ to discuss vaccine rollout success by the former administration, and possible COVID origins.
We are heading into a time of greater freedom from the coronavirus guided by health information. Simple home tests to help you identify COVID along with serological tests to show immunity and proof of vaccine will all help us manage our exit from the pandemic and back in the direction of normal life.
Rapid home self-testing for the virus has been a huge unmet need since the beginning of the pandemic. A self-reporting system of symptoms and temperature before attending school or work is not only difficult to enforce, it is also largely inaccurate as a predictor of mild or asymptomatic COVID.
Unfortunately, despite the promise of Ellume and Lucira, and other home testing, no home test kit has become readily available on a large scale and in fact there has been a big backlog of do-it-yourself tests waiting approval at the Food and Drug Administration.
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Which is why I was glad to see that last week the FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization for Amazon’s home self-testing PCR nasal swab kit produced by its own lab STS Holdco. This will initially be used for twice-a-week screening of Amazon’s own 1.3 million employees, overseen by medical staff, but could have a much broader application, especially if Amazon decides to offer it online for general usage.
This test could aid enormously in school and business reopenings throughout our country, overcoming resistance and replacing politics with public health in the form of expanded contact tracing.
When it comes to Amazon itself, this move could lead to a safer work environment.
Throughout the pandemic, Amazon has continued to operate most of its facilities even when there were outbreaks. As of October, more than 20,000 of their employees had tested positive for the virus, and Amazon was accused of a lack of transparency, especially when it came to their more than 500,000 warehouse workers who frequently heard about outbreaks from outside the company or even via the media.
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But while the new test will help Amazon to centralize its information on COVID outbreaks, there is still no guarantee it will improve transparency to isolate COVID-positive people and identify their contacts to help control outbreaks.
Given the risks, you must be allowed to give your consent to be tested by Amazon or any company.
On the flip side there is concern that Amazon would gain private health information it could use to profile or otherwise control its workers or former workers.
It is one thing for the state or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be notified of an infected patient – especially in the middle of a pandemic, this is a matter of law – it is quite another for an employer to have this information on file. It is one thing for a hospital or lab to have access to your information – they are bound by patient privacy laws. Your employer is not.
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Similar concerns arise when it comes to using vaccination records or perhaps proof of COVID antibodies as passports. Though these will provide tools to reopen society and allow you to travel and to access stores, restaurants and gyms that have been heavily restricted or closed until now, at the same time your health information will also become more public and potentially subject to manipulation or misuse.
Given the risks, you must be allowed to give your consent to be tested by Amazon or any company. It must not be mandatory, if only because of your right to privacy. You must be the one in charge of this information, not Amazon, and certainly not Big Brother.
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