COVID-19: Mass test pilot in Liverpool potentially avoided thousands of cases, study finds

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COVID-19: Mass test pilot in Liverpool potentially avoided thousands of cases, study finds


Thousands of new cases of COVID-19 have been potentially averted and the detection of infections has increased by nearly a fifth thanks to a community testing pilot in Liverpool, the results suggest.

Researchers said more than 3,200 key employee days were protected from quarantine through a test-to-release program.

Led by the University of Liverpool and the Department of Health and Social Affairs (DHSC), the study ran from November 6, 2020 to April 30, 2021 with the aim of improving detection of the coronavirus using lateral flow tests for people without symptoms.

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The pilot ran from November 6, 2020 to April 30 of this year

He showed that new cases of COVID-19[feminine[feminine fell 21% compared to other regions until mid-December – a time when the UK variant of the virus made it more difficult to compare areas.

More than half – 57% or 283,338 people – in Liverpool have taken a lateral flow test (LFT) in what Liverpool City Council has said is the world’s first voluntary mass testing program for people without symptoms of COVID-19.

The results of the study showed that about 6,300 people reporting no symptoms tested positive by lateral flow – 2.1% positive cases.

Liverpool’s community testing compared to other regions saw an estimated 18% increase in case detection and a 21% reduction in cases through mid-December, the researchers said.

Optimistic modeling suggested 6,600 cases were prevented thanks to the mass test pilot – but scientists said a pessimistic model showed only 850 infections were prevented.

Professor Iain Buchan, chair of public health and clinical informatics at the University of Liverpool’s faculty of health and life sciences, said scientists have taken a ‘cautious approach’ with modeling .

“That’s why we have this wide range between a pessimistic scenario and an optimistic scenario,” he said.

“The reality is, it’s probably a lot closer to the optimistic scenario, if it’s going to be consistent with a reduction in case rates by one-fifth, which we’ve actually seen. “

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Woman slips away on first day of mass testing pilot program in Liverpool

Meanwhile, Professor Calum Semple said the benefit of rapid testing was clear.

“We were seeing the benefits of rapid testing in the large-scale community and we can see that it has reduced the cases, so discussing the pros and cons of PCR and its sensitivity – you could argue its over-sensitivity – was not. not what it was about, ”said the professor of epidemic medicine at the University of Liverpool and a member of SAGE.

“It was about testing a device in our community and seeing how it could get our community back on its feet. “

Professor Semple said the approach had been “very effective and kept our emergency services on the road.”

But Professor Sally Sheard, head of the Department of Public Health, Policy and Systems at the University of Liverpool’s Population Health Institute, said there needs to be a ‘learning point’ in terms of challenges faced by those who live in the most disadvantaged areas of the city.

The study showed that people living in poorer areas were less likely to be tested and more likely to test positive for the virus.

She said: “A lot of people in the poorer parts of town were reluctant to engage in the process due to the very real fear of losing income if they were to self-isolate, if they turned out. positive. “

Liverpool Director of Public Health Matthew Ashton said the use of lateral flow testing gives “the potential to close epidemics at a much earlier stage with this hyperlocal large-scale deployment of LFT”.

He added, “We hope our learning can be used by governments at home and abroad, not only to manage COVID-19, but also in future pandemics. ”

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