At the moment, the United States is processing 15 million individual coronavirus tests per month, and while that is an extreme number of tests, something just isn't working. So, health officials may begin to take a different approach.
This different approach comes in the form of a new way of testing that would allow health officials to locate and isolate infected persons much faster than the traditional method of testing.This new form of testing is called "pool testing", and was recently discussed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Dr. Fauci spoke to The Washington Post in regards to pool testing, and here's what he said:
"Something's not working, I mean, you can do all the diagramming you want, but something is not working. What you need to do is find the penetration of infected people in your society And the only way you know that is by casting a broad net." If you are unsure what pool testing is, an example has been provided from Scientific American, and it can be found below.
Pool testing example:
"Group testing is a numbers game. Let's say you are examining 100 people, and one of them is positive. Normally you would do 100 diagnostic tests, searching for genetic material from the virus in each individual. But with group testing, you can divide those 100 people into five groups of 20. That gives you five pools with 20 samples, and you use one test per pool. If the first four sample pools test negative, you have eliminated 80 people with four tests. If the last pool tests positive, you retest each sample in that last pool individually to identify the one with the disease. In the end, you did 25 tests instead of 100."
Dr. Fauci explains that the traditional way of testing might not be enough to combat the spread of the virus, and that a more broader approach of testing may be required to successfully combat the spread. Essentially, if health officials start pool testing they will be able to eliminate large groups of the population at once, instead of individually marking people clear for COVID-19.
The United States isn't the only country considering adopting pool testing, health officials and departments in Israel and Germany are also considering the adoption. We will be sure to update you as more information is released in regards to this new testing method.
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