‘Something’s Not Working’: Fauci Looks At New Coronavirus Testing Method

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Fiona Murchake Contributor
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White House health adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci and the Trump administration are looking to implement a new method of coronavirus testing called “pool testing.”

Pool testing involves testing groups of around 10 people together, which would use fewer resources and uncover positive tests more efficiently. Fauci and health officials are in “intense discussions” over this strategy’s potential, The Washington Post reported Friday. 

Pool testing combines a group of people into a singular sample. If the results of the test for that sample are negative, the pooled sample is declared negative for COVID-19. If the results are positive, each person in the sample “pool” must be tested individually for the virus, according to WaPo.

“What you need to do is find the penetration of infected people in your society,” Fauci said. “And the only way you know that is by casting a broad net.”

Pool testing is part of a broader disease surveillance strategy that would benefit large groups like companies or schools. The approach isn’t efficient if many sample tests come back positive, as everyone in the sample would have to be tested individually.

There is also the possibility of the false negative — if someone does have the virus, the viral level in the individual sample may be diluted when mixed with other samples, and may be undetectable, STAT News reported.

This method allows for regular screenings of those not experiencing coronavirus symptoms, helping to uncover the asymptomatic cases that make up around 40% of those who have been infected, according to the Annals of Internal Medicine Journal.

“Pool testing would give us the capacity to go from half a million tests per day to potentially 5 million individuals tested per day,” said Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, in her keynote address at an online American Society for Microbiology Microbe conference Tuesday.

Coronavirus case counts continue to rise across the United States. A single-day record of 39,327 new infections were reported by state health departments on Thursday, according to WaPo. (RELATED: 82% Of Alabama’s Hospital Beds Are Full As State Hits A Record Number Of Coronavirus Patients)

“Something’s not working. I mean, you can do all the diagramming you want, but something is not working,” Fauci said of the current approach. 

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