Coronavirus Test Kit Costs Just About $130. Then Why Can’t The US Afford To Have Enough?

The US is struggling like a third-world country to contain the current Coronavirus pandemic. The wealthiest country in the world says it does not have enough test kits available to test millions of people to identify and isolate the infected. Other countries like South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan have been successful in containing the virus spread. While the US healthcare system is already a disaster compared to other developed countries the current crisis exposes the fatal flaws of the “system” even more.

According to an article in The Asia Times, the test kit is highly affordable at just about $130 in South Korea. Then why is the US unable to buy enough and test a large section of the population on a daily basis. Even if we assume if it costs $13,000 per kit accounting for all the legalized price gouging in the health care industry, it is still affordable by the state and health insurance firms.

From the article in The Asia Times:

South Korea has the dubious distinction of suffering the second-highest number of  Covid-19 infections after China – but can also boast the lowest death ratio among countries with significant numbers of cases.

According to the WHO on March 6, the crude mortality ratio for Covid-19 – that is, the number of reported deaths divided by the number of reported cases – is between 3-4%. In Korea, as of March 9, that figure was a mere 0.7%.

While, 7,478 cases were confirmed in South Korea by the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) on Monday, only 51 have died. Meanwhile, according to data from John Hopkins University, Italy has 7,375 cases and 366 deaths, while Iran has 7161 cases and 237 deaths.

Amid the outbreak, neighboring China has used a “Great Wall” strategy to cordon off entire cities. South Korea has stuck to a liberal playbook: even its most affected city, Daegu, has not been isolated. This makes Seoul’s apparent success in the struggle against Covid-19 a potential benchmark for other affected democracies.

What is behind Korea’s low fatality rate from a virus that has spooked the world? Government briefers speaking to foreign reporters in Seoul on Monday offered some pointers.

Key factors include a robust national health service; prior experience of virus outbreaks and related preparations; aggressive execution of testing, isolation and treatment protocols, fully backed by the law – and two incidences of good fortune.

Source: Why are Korea’s Covid-19 death rates so low?, Asia Times

Here is an excerpt from another article reviewing the response of the US:

Both Hong Kong and Singapore continue to find a few new cases each week, but they’ve avoided the explosive outbreaks that have occurred elsewhere.

Ashish Jha, who runs the Harvard Global Health Institute, says the response to the coronavirus has varied dramatically around the world. “Some countries have been very aggressive and have actually done quite a good job,” he says. “Other countries have been quite lackadaisical and, I think, have suffered immensely from it. And I think there are lessons to be learned for all of us.”

Italy and Iran both fall in the latter category. Jha says that before cases of COVID-19 were first diagnosed, Italy and Iran appeared to be in denial about the disease.

“I mean, you had the Iran deputy health minister coughing on national television talking about coronavirus,” Jha says. “But really not taking it seriously.”

That deputy health minister later tested positive for the virus.

As people started to get sick, neither Italy nor Iran did much testing. They were slow to stop mass gatherings. Eventually both countries were overwhelmed with cases.

So how has the United States’ response been?

“Our response is much, much worse than almost any other country that’s been affected,” Jha says.

He uses the words “stunning,” “fiasco” and “mind-blowing” to describe how bad it is.

“And I don’t understand it,” he says incredulously. “I still don’t understand why we don’t have extensive testing. Vietnam! Vietnam has tested more people than America has.” (He’s citing data from earlier this week. The U.S. has since started testing more widely, although exact figures still aren’t available at a national level.)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention started screening overseas travelers for coronavirus in mid-January. But the initial test kits developed by the CDC were flawed, and it took weeks to sort out the problems. It’s only this week that wide-scale testing has started to become available in the United States.

Jha believes that the weekslong delay in deploying tests — at a time when numerous other tests were available around the world — has completely hampered the U.S. response to this crisis.

“Without testing, you have no idea how extensive the infection is. You can’t isolate people. You can’t do anything,” he says. “And so then we’re left with a completely different set of choices. We have to shut schools, events and everything down, because that’s the only tool available to us until we get testing back up. It’s been stunning to me how bad the federal response has been.”

Source: Singapore Wins Praise For Its COVID-19 Strategy. The U.S. Does Not, NPR

You can checkout this piece at FT published last week:

Instead of focusing on important things below are some things that were doing in the past months:

  • Impeachment Drama
  • Trump Tax Return Soap Opera
  • Some Hollywood moron that did awful things to women
  • Planning a war with Iran by killing some no-name military General that nobody knows
  • Celebrity Gossip
  • Building a wall along the Mexico Border
  • Trade War with China
  • Illegals caravan heading towards the US
  • Equifax Data Breach drama
  • Facebook hearing comedy
  • Amazon HQ2 (“branch office”) location selection scam
  • Government Shutdown drama

And so many other stupid stuff.

It is a sad state of affairs indeed.


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