The president has set the agenda for fighting Covid-19 and the agenda is about the vaccine. All about the vaccine. It has never been about masks -- too wimpy -- or contact tracing -- too confusing -- or social distancing -- too weird. It's about going as fast as the Starship Enterprise to find something that immunizes you.
I think that's terrific.
We've got some amazing companies trying to come up with one, with tests galore. We are doing everything to move fast. But you can only move as fast as people can be infected. Given the trend in some areas, it won't be fast enough Maybe we will need as much as five months of exposure just to be sure that the test is rigorous enough.
This is why I have been focused on other things, things like testing and masks. I help set up a million dollar challenge to design a mask that people will wear.
And I have been a demon for testing, because as unsexy as it is, we can stop the spread by stopping the spreaders.
Of course, testing's been a bit of a joke in this country. We put ourselves in the hands of a couple of oligopolists, the lab companies, and they have been overwhelmed from day one. That means you can't get the turnaround you need; in fact, by the time you get results back it is often too late.
That is why I am so excited about the test that Abbott Labs (ABT) put out Thursday, a 15 minute test, one that you will be able to get from any mini-clinic in a couple of weeks. This method scales: They are going to be making 50 million test kits a month. You have a light swab, the swab's put on a card, the card tells you in 15 minutes whether you have it or not. Roughly 98% reliable, when you consider both sensitivity and specificity.
What happens then? Well, there's an app, Navica, that takes your results and puts it in your cellphone with a QR code for the day. You want that QR code if you want to get into a game or a school or a concert or a cruise or an airline and you are in. All for $5.
Now, nothing works perfectly, which is why Abbott's stock is not roaring, although all of the cruise and airlines are. I think that people feel so burned on everything involving the disease that this one's being dismissed as more hype. I am being accused of hyping it.
I am just pointing out that until we do get a vaccine, we have to rely on this kind of test along with masks -- which many still don't believe in -- and social distancing. To me, this Abbott Labs weapon now becomes the best thing we humans have in our arsenal.
I don't know if the president is going to focus on the test. He's been hung up on a lot of different issues, involving the conquering of it. I hope we do. That's terrific. Until we get it though, welcome to the Abbott test and the mask. Mr. President: It's better than nothing, which I think is what you have been in favor of, until the vaccine's ready to roll.