Quijano: The NBA dabbles in Covid-19 testing

Last Round

THE NBA as a league has always been a trailblazer of sorts. Amidst a pandemic that has seemingly brought America to its knees, it has gone on (successfully so far) with an ambitious re-start of the 2019-2020 season at an exclusive venue, the Walt Disney World in Florida, specifically, the ESPN Wide World of Sports, a 220- acre complex with complete sports amenities located on the southern edge of the resort.

Teams, including players and staff, are billeted at the hotels inside the complex. All testing protocols are strictly observed and, of course, no fans are in attendance.

Initially, 22 teams participated but that number will be narrowed down next week when the playoffs start.

Not only that, it has staunchly supported the Black Lives Matter movement and has partnered with the NBA Players Association in finding ways to amplify the messages it wants to get across, regardless of any potential backlash or criticism.

SALIVADIRECT. As proof of its commitment to provide a safe environment for its players, the NBA has now dabbled in funding an ambitious testing protocol called SalivaDirect.

It is being tested by the Yale School of Public Health Department of Epidimiology of Microbial Diseases and submitted to the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization last July 14, 2020. The NBA is funding the Yale study.

It is an extremely fast and cheap test with lower sensitivity but it can be done at home and results available in hours or even minutes.

TESTING. The efficacy of testing has been the bane in our fight against Covid-19. At present, the gold standard for testing is the PCR test, short for “reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction.”

It uses reagents to test for the presence of genetic material of the virus. The problem has been the lag in getting the results.

Here’s how it is presently. You could be infected today and in the coming days, the virus will slowly replicate in your body. But in the first few days you will not have any symptoms, if at all.

But around the third or fourth day there will be enough of the virus that will register a positive PCT test result and you are highly contagious but you do not think you are sick. It is only when you show symptoms probably around day five and onwards that you might go to the hospital to undergo a test, but the problem is that in the meantime you could potentially have infected others already, especially since the results could come back only after two days.

With SalivaDirect and also other iterations currently being studied, a simple saliva sample can deliver results in less than an hour done at your home which will already give you an idea of whether or not you are infectious. While the accuracy rate is not that high, done numerous times over the next couple of days, it will give you a baseline in determining whether or not you are infectious.

Simply put, the paradigm shift is from whether or not you are infected to whether or not you are infectious.

If approved, the ideal scenario would be the availability of these tests ubiquitously for everyone. You want to watch a movie? You have to take the saliva test before you can get in. You want to go to school? We can do this every day for all students.

It’s not that expensive if these are mass produced and considering that millions are lost anyway to the pandemic, this would be more practical than giving endless government dole-outs that is not sustainable in the long term and would cripple government resources.

Of course, there is still hope that we can get a safe vaccine soon, but in the meantime, this would be an acceptable compromise to allow us to recapture back our old lives and routines.

VERBATIM. “Each time I saw a look, I don’t care how far I was or if somebody was close to me. If I had a sniff, I was raising up and shooting it.”—Damian Lillard on shooting threes from the NBA logo ( )

LAST ROUNDS. Are on Jojie Cabrillos and Jul Calderon Subayno of MTCC Branch 2 who celebrate their birthdays this week. Cheers!


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