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Optimising SARS-CoV-2 pooled testing strategies on social networks for low-resource settings

By Karina I Mazzitello, Yi Jiang, Constancio Miguel Arizmendi

Posted 15 Jan 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.01.13.20249064

Controlling the COVID-19 pandemic is an urgent global challenge. The rapid geographic spread of SARS-CoV-2 directly reflects the social structure. Before effective vaccines and treatments are widely available, we have to rely on alternative, non-pharmaceutical interventions, including frequency testing, contact tracing, social distancing, mask wearing, and hand-washing, as public health practises to slow down the spread of the disease. However frequent testing is the key in the absence of any alternative. We propose a network approach to determine the optimal low resources setting oriented pool testing strategies that identifies infected individuals in a small number of tests and few rounds of testing, at low prevalence of the virus. We simulate stochastic infection curves on societies under quarantine. Allowing some social interaction is possible to keep the COVID-19 curve flat. However, similar results can be strategically obtained searching and isolating infected persons to preserve a healthier social structure. Here, we analyze which are the best strategies to contain the virus applying an algorithm that combine samples and testing them in groups [1]. A relevant parameter to keep infection curves flat using this algorithm is the dairy frequency of testing at zones where a high infection rate is reported. On the other hand, the algorithm efficiency is low for random search of infected people.

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