What is pool testing and how does it work?

It’s an approach officials are considering for ramping up coronavirus testing.

 

Also known as batch testing, pool testing combines samples from several people and tests them for the coronavirus all at once, cutting down on the time and supplies required. The protocol was first invented to test for syphilis during World War II and has been used in the past for outbreaks of other sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

 

“If everyone is negative, then you’re done,” Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, explained. If the test detected the presence of the virus, then each person would have to be tested and the results individually analyzed to determine whose sample produced the positive result.

 

“You can rapidly increase the capacity of testing,” said Benjamin Pinsky, director of the Clinical Virology Laboratory at Stanford University’s School of Medicine. “The trade-off is that there’s reduced sensitivity. It’s kind of a balance.” Samples with low viral loads are more likely to go undetected in a pool, he said.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.washingtonpost.com