Grouped COVID19 Testing - Increasing Testing Capability

We currently have a limited testing capacity. My understanding of the current process is that a DNA swab is taken from the patient. This is then added to a reagent which splits it into RNA and multiplies the RNA such that there is suffiecient quantity to get a result.

Would it be possible to group swabs and add multiple peoples swabs into a single lab test. Take multiple swabs to add to the reagent. At first this may seem silly however it could allow us to test more of the population and allow more to be at work.

To make this work we could take a certain number of people and perform the DNA swab. Lets say for arguments sake this number is 5. We would then combine these swabs at a lab and perform the test in the standard way. If the test were to come back positive we would ask all 5 people who were tested to self isolate. This would increase our testing by 5 fold and if we were to do this ,especially on asymptomatic people we could have similar levels of testing to countries such as South Korea.

Why the contribution is important

On May 4th 2,445 tests were carried out in Scotland. That is 44.8 per 100 000 people or 0.045% of the population. Based on population size taken from Wikipedia.

This is insufficient to give us a macro picture of how many people have the virus in Scotland. This makes it difficult to know what the R rate is and a lot of other important information.

If we were to group tests, again at that value of 5 previously given, we could have tested 12 225 people on the 4th of May. It is clear to see how significant an impact that could have.

The value of peoples swabs to group is obviously an issue that needs to be looked at, as the more we group the lower the quality of data the testing provides. However the greater the number we group the more we can allow people to go back to normal and while having some saftey that all those possibly infected are isolating.

by DevVeh on May 05, 2020 at 06:53PM

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