Can Frequent Rapid-antigen Testing Keep People Safe from COVID-19?

In a brand new examine, Yale epidemiologists come across a extra sensible technique for COVID surveillance on the a part of firms, groups, colleges, and communities.

With frequent, common speedy antigen (RA) testing, plus isolating individuals who take a look at constructive, organizations can successfully lower the danger of out-of-control COVID outbreaks and make lengthy quarantines a factor of the previous, the researchers say.


This is feasible regardless that RA assessments are much less correct than gold-standard PCR assessments. The purpose? RA assessments ship outcomes quick, making up in velocity for what they lack in accuracy. That provides them an edge after they’re used often to check teams of individuals.

“There’s been a lot of throwing up our hands lately and saying, ‘What can we do?’ People think there’s no way to eliminate risk. But that’s not true,” said senior author Jeffrey Townsend, the Elihu Professor of Biostatistics at the Yale School of Public Health and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale University. “If you take a look at often sufficient, you may repress transmission inside a neighborhood.”

The examine seems on-line in Communications Medicine.

In an October 2021 examine that modified coverage on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Townsend’s workforce demonstrated that 14-day quarantines may safely be shortened to seven days if folks take a look at adverse with a PCR take a look at on the seventh day.

The present examine suggests a means that teams can shorten quarantine much more.

Rapid antigen testing can provide a path ahead

For the examine, the researchers used public knowledge and mathematical fashions to review three questions:

  • After an individual leaves quarantine with a adverse RA take a look at, how probably are they to transmit COVID to others?
  • If they transmit COVID, how many individuals are prone to change into contaminated?
  • How do 18 commercially out there, FDA-authorized RA assessments stack up in opposition to PCR assessments by way of accuracy?

Taking under consideration variations in numerous commercially out there RA assessments, the authors discovered that the flexibility of those assessments to scale back post-quarantine transmission relies on (1) how lengthy quarantine lasts and (2) how briskly outcomes come again. When the RA assessments are taken about an individual’s an infection standing — earlier than, throughout, or after signs seem — can be essential.

Speed ​​is essential.

Though much less correct than the PCR take a look at, RA testing provides ends in minutes, whereas a PCR take a look at might take many hours and even days, hampering real-time detection of who’s infectious. After all, folks might contract or transmit COVID whereas they look forward to outcomes.

When testing to exit a two-day or shorter quarantine, the authors discovered {that a} adverse quick-turnaround RA take a look at can scale back COVID transmission extra successfully than a 24-hour-turnaround PCR take a look at.

“It turns out that the rapid antigen tests are as effective as PCR if there’s a day’s delay to get your PCR results,” Townsend mentioned. “Notifying people that they’re sick is critical to them preventing further transmission.”

How typically ought to testing happen?

With every-other-day testing, all RA take a look at manufacturers — even much less correct ones — work to suppress COVID outbreaks, the authors discovered.

“Any transmission will probably peter out very quickly,” Townsend mentioned.

Testing each three days was possible with some RA assessments, whereas others weren’t correct sufficient to supply a transparent image. However, testing each 4 or 5 days risked COVID spreading uncontrolled.

With masking, air flow, vaccines, and different associated measures in place, the safety that testing can provide is even stronger, Townsend mentioned.

“If you’re doing this regular testing for sports teams and other people working closely together, you can give them a sense of assurance that it’s okay for them to be in that group,” he mentioned. “It doesn’t mean no one’s going to get COVID-19. But it means that there will not be these extended transmissions within groups. So, people can feel assured that their group, at least, is a relatively low risk.”

The examine was funded by the Notsew Orm Sands Foundation, BHP, and BP.

Source: Eurekalert

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