PerspectiveViewpoint: COVID-19

COVID-19 testing: One size does not fit all

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Science  08 Jan 2021:
Vol. 371, Issue 6525, pp. 126-127
DOI: 10.1126/science.abe9187


Tests for detecting severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) were developed within days of the release of the virus genome (1). Multiple countries have been successful at controlling SARS-CoV-2 transmission by investing in large-scale testing capacity (2). Most testing has focused on quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assays, which are capable of detecting minute amounts of viral RNA. Although powerful, these molecular tools cannot be scaled to meet demands for more extensive public health testing. To combat COVID-19, the “one-size-fits-all” approach that has dominated and confused decision-making with regard to testing and the evaluation of tests is unsuitable: Diagnostics, screening, and surveillance serve different purposes, demand distinct strategies, and require separate approval mechanisms. By supporting the innovation, approval, manufacturing, and distribution of simpler and cheaper screening and surveillance tools, it will be possible to more effectively limit the spread of COVID-19 and respond to future pandemics.

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