The Hill

Trump Admin Plans New COVID-19 Testing Strategy

COVID-19 cases continue to surge in the United States and it appears that the surge is not solely because mass testing efforts are going on. Some feel that the spike in coronavirus cases is truly another surge, something most refer to as the second wave. However, several factors need to be considered. Business reopenings are one of them and so are people who prefer not to adhere to the health guidelines.

Regardless, this is not expected to slow down efforts of providing mass testing. Though the number of tests administered has grown rampant, it remains that it has not reached some parts of most regions. Hence, the Trump administration is now mapping out plans for a new strategy, something that could aid states in expanding their mass testing efforts, the Hill reported.

Pool testing has been mentioned by public officials in recent days and it appears the government is studying its viability. Also known as batch testing, this approach calls for allowing several samples to be tested simultaneously to reduce the waiting time in knowing the results. Knowing the results from COVID-19 is important, although there are rapid testing options available. But the problem tied to that is accuracy on whether a person is positive or not.

For example, if health officials are attempting to test 10 asymptomatic people at the same time, their samples are collected and tested at once. If the results come back negative, all will be deemed negative and no individual testing is required. However, it would be a different matter if it comes back positive. In this case, individual tests need to be administered.

“This is being done now in many universities and many commercial laboratories, and we are working with everyone in the community to do this,” the administration's testing czar, Brett Giroir, said. “It’s not right all the time, but it’s right a lot of the time.”

Pool testing could be useful, particularly at schools. With some schools planning to reopen, large group tests can reduce the waiting time and cover more students, according to health experts. Anand Parekh, a former deputy assistant secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services, said this looms as a promising strategy, although some protocols should be in place to control the surge in COVID-19 cases. This includes pausing business reopenings, reinstating restrictions and the usual health guidelines such as wearing masks, social distancing and proper hygiene.

Coronavirus COVID-19 Laboratory Test, Cure, Vaccine Extracting genetic material of the virus in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Pedro Vilela/Getty Images

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