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Study to Examine Whether Rapid COVID-19 Antigen Tests Can Identify Infectious and Asymptomatic Individuals

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 28 Oct 2020
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Image: Study to Examine Whether Rapid COVID-19 Antigen Tests Can Identify Infectious and Asymptomatic Individuals (Photo courtesy of (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)
Image: Study to Examine Whether Rapid COVID-19 Antigen Tests Can Identify Infectious and Asymptomatic Individuals (Photo courtesy of (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)
Researchers are using rapid COVID-19 antigen tests in a study to examine their use among first responders and school-aged children, as well as understand whether these tests can identify infectious and asymptomatic individuals.

The study by researchers at the University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA, USA) will examine the use of coronavirus rapid antigen tests among first responders and school-aged children. The pilot study aims to determine the best methods for using the inexpensive tests with the hope of supporting reopening efforts. Rapid tests have the potential to quickly alert people who are contagious and need to isolate, thereby stopping the chain of transmission. Los Angeles is one of the first metropolitan areas in the country to launch a large-scale pilot study of rapid tests in both symptomatic and asymptomatic participants.

The first phase of the new project kicked off recently with firefighters at the Los Angeles Fire Department receiving three COVID-19 tests at city testing sites: a self-administered rapid antigen test, a lab-based PCR test and an antibody test to identify prior infection. The project, which aims to enroll up to 1,000 first responders, will provide insight into how each test performs and how to best administer these tests to essential frontline workers. The second phase of the project seeks to assess the feasibility, acceptability and accuracy of repeat rapid antigen testing for screening in school-aged children.

Researchers are looking at the pilot studies, focus groups and surveys as avenues to tackle a number of challenges, such as establishing the best way to deploy rapid testing, determining how often a person should repeat testing and identifying the best way to conduct large-scale testing and develop an effective implementation strategy.

“Rapid antigen tests have a lot of promise in our path to reopen schools and businesses because they are cheaper and provide quicker results than PCR tests. But there is a lot we don’t know,” said Neeraj Sood, director of the COVID Initiative at the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics and USC lead on the collaboration. “We want to understand whether rapid antigen tests identify infectious and asymptomatic individuals, whether they can be self-administered and how they can be used for screening at schools and workplaces. We are especially excited to be piloting a new rapid antigen test and mobile app that uses computer vision technology to automatically interpret results.”

Related Links:
University of Southern California


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