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IPFS News Link • General Opinion

Some Sense on How COVID-19 Testing Should Be Conducted and Why--


Robert Zurbin, an aerospace engineer whose inventions include the nuclear salt-water rocket and co-inventor (with Dana Andrews) of the magnetic sail, writes:

In the face of the current coronavirus pandemic, authorities are taking measures that are having massive negative economic impacts...The most important statistics we need to know to develop a strategy to deal with the situation are the size of the pandemic and its lethality. Current data provides no basis for accurate estimation of these vital metrics...

To get the right answer, we need to random-test the public. We don't need to test all 327 million citizens — although, when feasible, that would be very desirable for the purpose of identifying immune individuals and putting them back to work. For the purpose of getting a rough estimate of the size of the infected population, we need to random-test only about 1,000 people nationwide. That is the approximate size of most election polls, and, provided that reasonable care is taken to ensure that the sample is representative of the electorate, such polls can generally predict the outcome within plus or minus 3 percent. It's true that occasionally a 45 percent–polling underdog can pull off an upset victory, but never a 20 percenter, let alone a 1 percenter.