Unproven Vaccine Technology and Rapid ‘Crappy’ Tests

Many of the Covid-19 vaccines in development are known as genetic vaccines, which in theory can be made and scaled up much more quickly than traditional vaccines. Rather than using a weakened or killed pathogen (or a piece of one) to elicit an immune response, genetic vaccines use the genetic material of the pathogen itself. This elegant and potentially game-changing technology — which is being pursued by Moderna, Inovio, and Pfizer — has just one drawback: It hasn’t actually been proven to work in humans yet. As Emily Mullin reports at OneZero, this vaccine technology is getting put to the ultimate test after 30 years in the making.

The testing situation in the U.S. is still dire. Though testing has ramped up, most people are waiting up to two days to get results, and some people up to two weeks. At a time when real-time results are paramount for tracking new outbreaks, speed is of the essence. We can achieve that, but accuracy may have to be the trade-off. As one expert told Robert Roy Britt in an interview for Elemental, “Maybe we only need a really crappy but fast test.” These tests are already in existence, but the Food and Drug Administration is hesitant to approve them.

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