Getting COVID19 Testing Strategies Right

By Dr. Nick van Terheyden aka Dr. Nick
Twitter: @drnic1
Host of Dr. Nick: The Incrementalist#TheIncrementalist

On this episode I talked to Dr. Zoë McLaren, Ph.D. (@ZoeMcLaren) Associate Professor in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Zoë has a broad and deep set of experiences when it comes to effectively gathering data to combat infectious disease, especially in resource-limited countries, and has commented and written on multiple occasions on the current COVID19 pandemic, “No, soaring COVID-19 cases are not due to more testing – they show a surging pandemic” and quoted here.

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We discuss the details of the various testing strategies and the importance of leveraging available data and resources – an important point currently as we find ourselves without widespread testing availability that means the data available is limited and comes with limitations and built-in bias. As she describes it:

Every test is surveillance data

But to extract the value requires understanding the context.

We explore what success looks like and the importance of setting testing goals that are driven back from the ultimate goal of eliminating COVID19 disease and any deaths related to it. In an ideal circumstance, everyone would reliably know if they were contagious and carrying the SARS-CoV-2 virus at all times and would know the status of everyone prior to interacting with them in person. But achieving that is not possible so working back from that how do we decrease the risk, what tests do we use and how do we manage the differences in test result accuracy.

Listen in to hear Zoë’s prescription for testing moving forward that must include rapid, widely available testing and how we communicate these complex issues effectively to everyone and increase compliance and trust in the systems to protect everyone’s safety.

About the Show
For years Dr. Nick van Terheyden aka Dr. Nick, has served as a voice on the impact of new technologies on healthcare, earning a reputation as a leading authority on where the future of medicine is going. Combining powers of observation and real world experience, Dr. Nick has seen many predictions come true and makes the case that innovations in healthcare can be accomplished incrementally, not just by moonshot events. Tune in to hear Dr. Nick: The Incrementalist and his guests discuss what the future of healthcare looks like, how we will get there, and what it will take to improve healthcare for all.

This article was originally published on the Dr. Nick – The Incrementalist blog and is republished here with permission.