With COVID-19 inflicting substantial damage to the humankind, the WHO has encouraged countries to conduct the disease testing in large numbers. However, countries have adopted different approaches and strategies to test the presence of infectious COVID-19. This study aims to investigate the comparative effectiveness of different molecular strategies for COVID-19.

The researchers developed a mathematical model on SARS-CoV-2 transmission and PCR test sensitivity since infection. The reduction in the effective reproduction number was estimated by testing and isolating symptomatic individuals. The primary endpoint of the study was the percentage reduction in the effective reproductive number. 

The findings suggested that the self-isolation of symptomatic individuals was 100% effective in reducing onwards transmissions, with the mean percentage reduction in the effective reproduction number being 47%. PCR testing was found to be effective in reducing transmission. When PCR testing was used to identify SARS-CoV-2 infection in individuals soon after symptom onset, a reduction in the requirement of self-isolation was noticed. Besides, weekly screening of healthcare workers using PCR testing was associated with a 23% reduction in their contribution to transmission of COVID-19.

The research concluded that molecular testing could play a significant role in the identification and prevention of COVID-19 transmission, especially among frontline healthcare workers.

Ref: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(20)30630-7/fulltext