Opinion | These 7 radical changes would fortify the U.S. against the next pandemic

Testing is the cornerstone to containing outbreaks before they explode. Researchers developed diagnostic tests for the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 not long after its genomic sequence was posted online Jan. 10, 2020. But these weren’t widely available in the United States for several months.

First, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention insisted on using only its limited — and initially flawed — tests. Next, the Food and Drug Administration was slow to evaluate tests developed by universities and the private sector. Finally, bureaucratic and logistical hurdles stopped tests from being done outside of hospitals. Once drive-through and walk-up testing centers opened across the United States toward the end of 2020, lines spoke to the demand.

Rather than shut these centers, the government should expand them to test for flu and sexually transmitted diseases. This would curb the spread of these illnesses while strengthening the testing system for the next pandemic.

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