"How do you test that this is the delta variant," asks a journalist the deputy White House press secretary. "How do you test that this is a dominant strain in the area when people just test covid-positive?"
"We [meaning the government] don't test it; we listen that scientists tell us that it is the delta variant".
Journalist: "What is [barely audible] the process for that?"
Deputy press secretary: "I don't even understand the question."
Is it reasonable to outsource the complicated cognitive functions to scientists and then to only listen to easily-digestible output from them? I guess so, although it makes mockery of the idea of informed electorate in a democracy.
Is it reasonable to expect a press secretary to understand, at a deep level, of how the knowledge behind what is coming out of her mouth is generated? I am not sure. Probably not, but would sure be nice.
Is it reasonable to wonder how the conclusion about the role of a variant in an outbreak is reached, given that the information about the infection status of a person is produced using either PCR or antigen tests, and none of them have sufficient power to identify a variant? Hell yeah.
Does the journalist know about genomic sequencing? If yes, then her question effectively is, what's the relationship between diagnostic tests for individual patients and genomic sequencing tests, i.e. whether all positive samples are then sequenced, or is there some random sampling going on, or is it something else? If not, she is just as clueless as the press secretary.
Is the question about the relationship between diagnostic testing and genomic sequencing (assuming that this is what she is asking) a valid one? Of course it is. Should the information about the process be easily available to anyone who happens to wonder? Of course it should.