COVID-19 Pool Testing Is a Stopgap Measure To Track and Curb the Pandemic

It could quickly amplify coronavirus testing by tenfold.


America's capacity to test for COVID-19 infections has greatly improved, rising from less than 1,000 per day at the beginning of March to around 600,000 per day now, according to the COVID Tracking Project. But the current level of testing is far from enough. Different researchers estimate that we need anywhere from 2 million to 30 million tests a day to fully reopen the economy safely. The idea is that frequent, widespread testing would stop the spread of the disease by quickly identifying infected people, who would then voluntarily self-isolate; physicians and public health authorities could then monitor and test people who had come in contact with them.

The Washington Post reported in May that few laboratories were testing at their full expanded technical capacities. This was probably because many Americans had become somewhat complacent about the pandemic, as the early exponential rate of growth in both cases and deaths was flattened through the broad adoption of social distancing.

What a difference a month makes. Laboratories are now warning that the escalating number of diagnosed COVID-19 cases in such places as Texas, Arizona, and Florida will soon strain even their now-expanded testing capacities. To address this looming shortfall, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told The Washington Post last week that Trump administration officials are looking into the possibility of pool testing.

Under this approach, samples from 10 to 20 people are combined and the pool is tested using just one coronavirus assay. Only if the test comes back positive is each individual in the pool tested for the infection.

"If you look around the globe, the way people are doing a million tests or 10 million tests is they're doing pooling," Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the Trump administration's coronavirus response team, told an online conference of the American Society for Microbiology last week. "Pooling would give us the capacity to go from a half a million tests a day to potentially 5 million individuals tested per day."

An even better bet would be to let cheap at-home diagnostic tests be made widely available. But in the meantime, pooling is a reasonable stopgap measure.

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    1. According to CHAZ security, two people tried to crash through the barricade and CHAZ security opened up on them with multiple firearms and shot the people inside.

      1. Hmm. This is getting interesting.

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        1. The implications are deeply disturbing. Two (likely black) teenagers were just killed in a hail of bullets from (likely white) self-appointed CHAZ security during a Black Lives Matter protest.

      2. According to CHAZ security, two people tried to crash through the barricade and CHAZ security border patrol opened up on them with multiple firearms and shot the people inside.

        Not cool man.

      3. LOL! Who ‘tries to crash’ a concrete barrier in a Jeep with a pet carrier in the back? From the lack of significant damage, they hit it a fairly low speed. More likely that Google Maps doesn’t recognize CHAZ and they were just following the directions without paying attention and ran into it.

        CHAZ ‘security’ are every bit as dumb as real cops, and just as ignorant of civil rights.

        1. From the interpretation of the (rather good) livestream, I think the word was that the people in the vehicle had a few minutes before done a drive-by shooting, then went around the block and tried to crash through another barrier in another location. Kind of hard to interpret, but what was easy to interpret is that they were met by a hail of bullets from CHAZ security- killing one and leaving the second in critical condition.

          The problem with all of this is if we put this to the same scrutiny we’d put a police shooting, they were allegedly were armed, allegedly involved in a drive-by shooting, allegedly tried to crash the barriers etc. etc. We don’t have any bodycam footage, the CHAZ security people haven’t had to testify or are be submitted to the scrutiny of an investigation. It’s just, one guy dead, another in critical condition after CHAZ security fired into their vehicle. Those are the only facts we know.

          1. We don’t have any bodycam footage,

            The gross incompetence despite absolute lack of civil rights shows just how absolutely retarded the people participating and ‘in charge’ are.

            The entire zone is something like 6 blocks, right? 7 cameras and 7 riflemen cover every street redundantly. Anybody drives a Jeep around the infield and then gets brought down in a hail of gunfire, you’ve got footage from at least 3 cameras to testify as to the scumbaggery these dispshits were/weren’t engaged in. Fucking Mousilini could do a better job running the CHAZ in his spare time on weekends and he’s been dead for 75 yrs.

            I’d put good money on the fact that some entrepreneurial gang leader is watching and noting that if there’s a disturbance on one side of the zone, every able body with a rifle goes running there.

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  1. we need anywhere from 2 million to 30 million tests a day to fully reopen the economy safely

    What does that mean? Seriously. Life isn’t safe. We’re not going to contain or stop the epidemic. That ship sailed months ago. It’s going to run it’s course. All that can be done is possibly slow it down a bit, at enormous cost to people’s personal and economic welbeing.

    1. That ship probably sailed even before China even knew it had something new.

      Was already all over the world, quietly being diagnosed as the flu or some other respiratory illness, if at all.

      Even if you could eliminate it in one country it would only stay eliminated so long as you maintain the testing regime and stomp all over the inevitable local outbreaks that occur as foreign travelers who had a false negative test spread it.

  2. Same story, moar testing needed!

  3. Problem in TX, FL, AZ, and CA is that they shut everything down too much, too soon, and too long. This isn’t a 2nd wave, its that the 1st wave is finally being allowed to occur.

    Observations from Iowa where things did not get so heavy handed.

    Buena Vista county in Iowa has had 1,695 positive cases out of about 19,600 residents, so about 8.7% confirmed positive.
    Sounds rough but its virtually all 20-60 year old adults so really not too many people needed to go to hospital. (Currently just 4 hospitalized in that county)

    About 30 days ago they specifically checked out a chicken plant in the county and found 650 positives (3% of the county population). They’d already had a few hundred in the preceding weeks, and picked up another few hundred in the following week or so.

    Three weeks ago they were still getting 20-40 positive tests a day in this county
    The last week they’ve had 1 to 2 positive tests a day.

    You can see this over and over in other small Iowa counties with 1-3% officially testing positive (likely meaning another 3-5% positives never tested). The last couple weeks despite mostly everything being allowed to open, these counties remained more or less flat.

    Kinda seems like you get to 5-10% and it really slows down more or less on its own.

    My county on the other hand still has 0.18% officially positive. 25% of our official cases have come in the last 10 days. We’ve got some sicking up to do.

    1. So I’ve done even more research on the az deaths lately. A large percent of the deaths are from near the border and on indian reservations, areas much likely to not follow federal guidelines.

      And even then it isnt an issue as covid patients are back under one third of the ICU patients.

  4. jfc floating idiotic individual tracking wasn’t enough now we’re cattle.

  5. What good will pool testing do?
    My neighborhood closed the pool.

    1. Which isn’t necessary. Even the CDC says that the virus is unlikely to spread in a properly chlorinated pool, as long as it is not overcrowded. The biggest danger of spread is when the swimmers are out of the water.

  6. Seems more and more like the only way we are getting out of this lockdown is to treat it like a stolen Jeep in CHAZ.

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    1. I am slowly becoming convinced these are where the democrats get their policy wizards.

  8. Officials complain about lack of public coming in for testing. If it were anonymous, they’d come.

    One in twelve people is in the US illegally, with higher numbers in cities. One in three people in the US has a criminal record or is related to a criminal.

    Huge segment of the country doesn’t trust government or the medical system that reports to government.

    Until there’s anonymous testing, this shit won’t end.

    1. For all the reasons you just cited, no will come in for anonymous testing, because no one will believe it is actually anonymous.

      1. People get anonymous hiv tests all over the US. They do it in person and can get mail-in kits from a drug store.

        And knowing personal hiv status does affect personal behavior. A multitude of new hiv cases are prevented every year, as a result.

        So there’s no reason to think that success couldn’t be duplicated with anonymous covid tests.

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  10. What exactly is the point of testing now?

    To slow the curve? To map the spread? What?

    You’ve already screwed that whole ‘curve’ thing.

    And the spread? It’s everywhere.

    What knowledge are we gaining that we need incessant testing to acquire?

    As near as I can tell, the point of the testing is so that news agencies will be able to scare people with coronavirus reports several times a day.

    Because this ‘tracing’ thing is a load.

    It will ‘trace’ everyone you’ve come in contact with and everything you’ve touched for the period before and after you get tested to….what? Slow the spread? How? By making someone you saw once a week and a half ago aware that they should self isolate because they passed you on the street?

    Do you not comprehend the utter idiocy of this?

    No. You don’t.

    Because science has become feelings to you.

    1. The purpose is to collect DNA from as many people as possible.

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