Background: Pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are important elements in the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and there remains a reliance on testing to manage the spread of the disease. In the UK, many universities opened for blended learning for the 2020-2021 academic year, with a mixture of face to face and online teaching. Methods: In this study we present a simulation framework to evaluate the effectiveness of different mass testing strategies within a university setting, across a range of transmission scenarios. Results: The sensitivity of 5x pooled RT-qPCR tests appears to be higher than testing using the lateral flow device with relatively little loss compared to single RT-qPCR tests, and is improved by pooling by social cluster. The range of strategies that we evaluated give comparable results for estimating prevalence. Conclusions: Pooling tests by known social structures, such as student households can substantially improve the cost effectiveness of RT-qPCR tests. We also note that routine recording of quantitative RT-qPCR results would facilitate future modelling studies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWellcome Open Research
Publication statusSubmitted - 30 Mar 2021

Structured keywords

  • Covid19


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