My Statement for The House Budget Committee Hearing on Federal R&D on what it will take for the United States to lead the world in both basic science and technological progress.
A lightly edited version of this twitter thread:
In a week dominated by horrible news, there are signs that the Senate may make the right choice when it passes a new response to the pandemic this July:
Answers to questions the proposal to use virus tests to reopen schools safely
The number of virus tests that the US uses to fight the ongoing pandemic will be very sensitive to the cost of a test. Several bits of evidence suggest that the true cost per person tested is about $10.
Yet in the United States, the providers of the approved clinical diagnostic tests for SARS-CoV-2 are able to charge a significant monopoly markup over their marginal cost of doing the test. The US government pays $100 per test to labs that are using high throughput technologies.
It would not be surprising if the two dominant providers of diagnostic tests, LabCorp and Quest, oppose entry into the testing business by university labs that can offer the tests at one-tenth the price they charge. Nor would it be surprising if these powerful companies were feeding information to news organizations and to members of Congress which suggests that it would be a terrible idea to invite university labs in as new providers of test services.
According to the policy guidance on reopening schools from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):
“The AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.”
Physical presence matters because students learn less when they study remotely. Students from poorer families suffer the most.
As a result, the AAP challenges some of the worst elements in the CDC guidance, including its advice on physical distance, which will keep students out of the classroom, and its support for temperature checks, which are known to have failed.