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OPINION | Private medicine to the rescue

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AMERICANS naturally turn to the government when their health or physical security is at risk, but a core U.S. strength is the breadth of its private medical resources. That’s on display now as the government is calling on private actors to buttress the federal response.

On Saturday the Food and Drug Administration said it will allow hundreds of academic hospital labs to begin testing for the coronavirus. The country had relied on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but its testing kits turned out to be faulty. By unleashing academic labs, the U.S. will have the capacity by the end of this week to screen “probably 10,000 people a day,” says Scott Gottlieb, the former FDA commissioner who writes for these pages. Within two weeks that should be 20,000 a day, Dr. Gottlieb said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

The feds are calling on academic labs and Big Pharma for help.

On Monday President Trump met at the White House with executives from the pharmaceutical industry to talk about developing a vaccine and therapeutics that can moderate viral symptoms and save lives. A vaccine might be a year away, but therapeutics could be available within months.

The Bernie Sanders campaign is saying the virus shows how Medicare for All would better serve the country. The opposite is true. By putting government in charge of every health care decision, Medicare for All would eliminate the adaptability of private innovation, which is an American advantage. The Trump Administration is right to exploit it.

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