January 29, 2021
Rapid COVID-19 testing would prevent the introduction of the virus into long-term care homes and help detect outbreaks quicker, according to new modelling from Simon Fraser University researchers.
Researchers Caroline Colijn and Paul Tupper performed a modelling exercise to see if screening with rapid testing could reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in long-term care homes. They found that if rapid testing was used for every visitor, there could be a 90 per cent reduction in the number of exposures from them. Screening staff every three days would also result in a 45 to 55 per cent reduction in the number of outbreaks inadvertently brought into these facilities by staff.
“We should be using all the tools in the toolkit and rapid screening could prevent a lot of outbreaks,” says Colijn, Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematics for Infection, Evolution and Public Health and professor at SFU. “Rapid tests may not be as accurate as PCR tests, but the comparison here isn’t to PCR tests, it’s to no regular screening. Rapid tests are accurate enough for screening large numbers of people.”