A new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey describes a means to better estimate the occurrence and trends of COVID-19 in populations.
Currently, COVID-19 testing is primarily limited to self-selected individuals, many of whom are symptomatic or have had contact with someone symptomatic. While these tests are useful for individual medical treatment and contact tracking, they do not provide health officials with a complete picture of the disease through the population.
“Coordinated sampling of COVID-19 is key to informing health officials as they continue their efforts to control the pandemic, allowing better predictions of disease dynamics and decisions that help limit transmission,” said scientist James Nichols emeritus of the USGS and lead author of the study. . “The proposed sampling methods should also help officials determine the effectiveness of vaccines, social distancing, masks and other mitigation efforts.”
Contributing his exclusive experience in the design of data collection and monitoring systems, statistical analysis and mathematical modeling of human epidemiology, the USGS provides a means to fill the current information gap in test data. This can benefit nationally and nationally local governments and health officials as they develop interventions in response to new disease variants, plan increased vaccination efforts, and prepare for future outbreaks.
Nichols notes that with some countries experiencing growth in cases, “the proposed testing strategies may be applied in the United States and internationally for COVID-19 and other diseases.”
One of the study’s proposals is to select a random sample within a population and examine individuals for symptoms, such as elevated temperature, in order to collect more representative data on asymptomatic cases. This would help researchers estimate the proportion of symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals in the population.
Asymptomatic individuals, or a random subset of these individuals, could be tested for COVID-19 to help estimate the likelihood of infection for asymptomatic individuals in the population.
“The strategies outlined in this new research would help strengthen current testing approaches and could be done with relatively few additional testing and noninvasive surveys,” said Michael Runge, a USGS scientist and co-author of the study. “Strategic testing, based on specific goals, can provide valuable information for decisions about individual health care and the protection of communities.”
“It’s very important to be clear about the purpose of a surveillance program,” said co-author Katriona Shea, a biology and biology science professor at Penn State. “Without knowing exactly what you want to achieve, how can you achieve it? An individual outcome monitoring program would be designed differently than a program aimed at understanding public health goals at the population level.”
James D. Nichols et al, Strategic testing approaches for disease-specific control can be used to inform pandemic decision-making, PLOS Biology (2021). DOI: 10.1371 / journal.pbio.3001307
United States Geological Survey
Citation: A study on coordinated sampling helps in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic (2021, July 14) retrieved July 15, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-07-sampling-coronavirus-pandemic .html
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