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California Doctor Takes Interest In Helping Florida Fight COVID

TAMPA BAY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - A doctor in California has taken a strong interest in COVID-19 testing in Florida, among other states. He and his team are developing an at-home antibody rapid test and believes testing should increase, regardless of what politicians say.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is facing growing criticism for changing its guidance recently on who should get tested for COVID-19. The revised recommendations suggest many individuals who have been exposed to the coronavirus but are not showing symptoms may not need to be tested.

Based in California and with more than 25 years practicing medicine, Dr. Michael Harbour has been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. The frequent interaction between Silicon Valley corporations and China facilitated Dr. Harbour's first interactions with the virus. He and his team worked diligently with testing and to help contain the virus in that region. Due to his extensive experience, he noticed parallels between his area and some of the harder-hit states such such as Florida.

Dr. Harbour relates, "Apple, Facebook and Intel, all headquartered here. They're going to China for manufacturing and we had a lot of the cases right here, right at my hospital." He and other medical experts are weighing in on rapid testing, saying there's a need now more than ever to control the virus.
It's taking anywhere between three to five, up to fourteen days [to receive test results]. You could have infected others [in that time]!"

As Florida became a major hot spot for the pandemic, he and other experts say testing nose-dived in the state, causing concern. "The CDC making a recommendation that we don't need to be doing this much testing now after somebody comes down with COVID. And what we've seen now, this is coming from the highest levels of the administration."

Dr. Harbour has taken an interest in states like Florida which saw a need for rapid testing, so his team is in the middle of developing one. He states, "You don't need the full virus to do the test. We're looking for a particle that's only found on that virus. You can get a rapid result within 10-15 minutes and you don't have to send the specimen back to the lab for processing."

The rapid antigen test will be done inside the doctor's office and will have the ability to be done almost anywhere. Dr. Harbour says the rapid test "can be done at a school, it can be done in southern Florida before somebody gets on a cruise ship, before somebody gets on a plane." He expects tens of thousands of kits to be available near the end of September of 2020 and says it could be a game-changer for the nation's COVID-19 pandemic problem.

Considering his extensive experience with the virus, Dr. Harbour says he's checking off every detail. "It's important to have good U.S. manufacturers making these tests because that's where a lot of the problems came on early. The United States was importing really poor quality tests from outside the United States, people were getting false positives. I know, because I've had people in my family get a false positive test."

Having been directly impacted by the virus himself, Harbour says, "In my own family, I've had two people die of COVID, and one of my cousin's battling for her life." He says support from the community and is vital in medical developments necessary to fight the virus. "Really listen to their doctors, listen to the medical community. Don't listen to politicians about how to take care of yourself. They're not the ones that you would go to for any other medical issue."

Dr. Harbour says he's also working with his team to develop an at-home antibody test.

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