Currently governments are taking extreme measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. However, there are couple of facts that suggest we are missing an approach that could be helpful.
First, we know that many people who contract COVID-19 will either show no symptoms or mild symptoms.
Second, we are testing for the presence of the virus in people who have moderate symptoms or worse. We are not testing everyone in the population.
That means we are missing the vast majority of people who have the virus. These people are still contagious and will spread the virus without anyone knowing it. And we can’t lock down everyone for months without severe consequences.
What we need now is an ANTIBODY test. That is a simple blood test to see if someone has had the virus. An antibody test is much simpler to obtain than the test for the presence of the virus. If someone has antibodies to COVID-19 then they will not be contagious (at least not after a week or so of having the test), and they will be immune to it (reports of people getting the virus again are highly suspect).
People who have developed immunity to the virus are safe to go out in public, work with people who are at risk, and they can be a source of antibodies that might help people who are severely ill.
A principle in dealing with a difficult situation is to either reduce the demands of the situation or increase the resources you have to deal with the situation.
The current response is aimed at reducing the demands of the situation. That is likely to cause other demands that may make things more difficult.
People who have COVID-19 antibodies in their serum are a resource and we should be finding those people and allowing them to help us. An test for COVID-19 antibodies that can be rolled out for the general public would be quite helpful.