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University of Colorado Boulder and Harvard University revealed crucial observations on COVID-19 testing from a new study. The researchers says that quick testing can stop coronavirus transmission within weeks time.
The researchers of University of Colorado Boulder said that world is currently using sensitivity levels of different types of COVID-19 tests. For example, antigen tests need 1000 times more viral load compared to PCR test to detect the virus infection.
Around half of the population can be tested with inexpensive and quick turnaround test results to eliminate coronavirus in weeks. This is achievable even with less sensitive testing. But then quick testing strategy results in “personalized stay at home orders” without closing the businesses, restaurants, bars, retails stores and schools.
The author of the study, Daniel Larremorre from University of Colorado says, “Our big picture finding is that, when it comes to public health, it’s better to have a less sensitive test with results today than a more sensitive one with results tomorrow”.
He says, rather than giving “stay at home orders” to everyone, it is advisable for only the infected person to stay at home to avoid the virus spread. This way, only contagious people could stay at home without any disturbance to the rest.
They found that to stop the virus spread, the frequency and turnaround time are much more important than test sensitivity.The study also analyzed the way amount of virus raises and falls down in the body of an infected person. Then mostly they experience symptoms and become contagious.
The researchers are highlighting an example where, in a vast city, testing twice weekly with rapid but less sensitivity level reduced the infections rate by 80%. And the testing twice weekly with a high sensitive PCR method reduced the infection rate only by 58%. So, the rapid testing with less sensitivity is effective in detecting coronavirus compared to the PCR test that takes 48 hours of turnaround time. Meanwhile, the infected person will be spreading the virus due to the late turnaround time with PCR test.
There are many rapid tests methods available which gives the results in 15 minutes whereas PCR test takes days of turnaround time.
This is why researchers believe that it is time to change the testing strategy. So that it can detect the virus infection in asymptomatic patients as well. Testing is the vital tool of breaking virus transmission chains according to the new study.
By Ramya C