Infectious Disease

The web software estimates the effectiveness of COVID-19 pool exams

December 22, 2020

2 min read

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Pilcher and Polage do not report any relevant financial information. In the study you will find all relevant financial information from all other authors.

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An online tool is using SARS-CoV-2 data to help policy makers understand the benefits of pooled testing across different populations. This emerges from the study results published in JAMA.

“It goes without saying that there continues to be an unprecedented demand for tests beyond our historical ability to meet them – and even our current ability to meet them.” Christopher R. Polage, MD, BUT, Healio said, the medical director of the clinical microbiology laboratory and associate professor of pathology at Duke University School of Medicine.

“Ways need to be developed to expand our testing dramatically,” said Polage. “Public health experts and mathematicians have shown great interest in pooling. In the past, people have used pooling in other scenarios, but it hasn’t really been used clinically. “

Polage and colleagues used PCR to “count SARS-CoV-2 copy numbers in patient samples and generate quantitative curves” for three SARS-CoV-2 tests approved by the FDA for emergency use. They used the curves to develop an online tool that enables researchers to define pool and sample sizes, positivity rates, and other relevant characteristics to compare pooled tests with individual samples. The tool also creates random virtual pools using positive samples from SARS-CoV-2 virus copy data that reflect the expected positivity rate, and then estimates pooled virus copy data at the expected dilution amount, the researchers explained.

During the analysis, it was found that pooled tests increase the number of false negatives per 1,000 patients – an effect that decreases as the pool size increases – and decrease the sensitivity of SARS-CoV-2 detection. Polage and colleagues said the method “can expand SARS-CoV-2 test coverage and increase the number of patients tested and cases detected, making it useful for population screening and resource-constrained settings.”

“The idea we’re aiming for with this paper is that our viral load data can help others study how pooled tests work for them,” Polage said. “They could inject their test criteria, site positivity rate, and intended use, and it would help them make decisions about how to use pooled tests clinically, for population screening, for school screening, etc. in their own location or in their own region could use. ”

Christopher D. Pilcher, MD, The professor at the University of California at San Diego, Department of HIV, Infectious Diseases, and Global Medicine, wrote in an accompanying editorial that efficient pooling algorithms are sometimes difficult to implement and laboratory speed may not result in fast turnaround times for patients, if it is this is because programs can properly receive, log, and prepare large numbers of new copies.

“Although these challenges are very real, they are exactly what state, regional and national is

Public health programs know how best to do it. Countries exposed to new waves of SARS-CoV-2 infection need ways to multiply their existing capacity and do so quickly, ”wrote Pilcher. “With reliable data as a guide to implementing highly efficient algorithms, laboratories that already have testing skills need only the right guidelines, funding, support, and regulations. A new mass screening solution is available and it is time to act. “

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