Faster detection of asymptomatic COVID-19 cases among care home staff in England through the combination of SARS-CoV-2 testing technologies

Finola Ryan, Joanna Cole-Hamilton, Niharika Dandamudi, Matthias E. Futschik, Alexander Needham, Rida Saquib, Raghavendran Kulasegaran-Shylini, Edward Blandford, Michael Kidd, Éamonn O’Moore, Ian Hall, Malur Sudhanva, Paul Klapper, Andrew Dodgson, Adam Moore, Madeleine Duke, Sarah Tunkel, Chris Kenny, Tom Fowler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

To detect SARS-CoV-2 amongst asymptomatic care home staff in England, a dual-technology weekly testing regime was introduced on 23 December 2020. A lateral flow device (LFD) and quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) test were taken on the same day (day 0) and a midweek LFD test was taken three to four days later. We evaluated the effectiveness of using dual-technology to detect SARS-CoV-2 between December 2020 to April 2021. Viral concentrations derived from qRT-PCR were used to determine the probable stage of infection and likely level of infectiousness. Day 0 PCR detected 1,493 cases of COVID-19, of which 53% were in the early stages of infection with little to no risk of transmission. Day 0 LFD detected 83% of cases that were highly likely to be infectious. On average, LFD results were received 46.3 h earlier than PCR, enabling removal of likely infectious staff from the workplace quicker than by weekly PCR alone. Demonstrating the rapidity of LFDs to detect highly infectious cases could be combined with the ability of PCR to detect cases in the very early stages of infection. In practice, asymptomatic care home staff were removed from the workplace earlier, breaking potential chains of transmission.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7475
JournalScientific Reports
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Crown 2024.

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