University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Serological testing remains a passive component of the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Using a transmission model, we examine how serological testing could have enabled seropositive individuals to increase their relative levels of social interaction while offsetting transmission risks. We simulate widespread serological testing in New York City, South Florida, and Washington Puget Sound and assume seropositive individuals partially restore their social contacts. Compared to no intervention, our model suggests that widespread serological testing starting in late 2020 would have averted approximately 3300 deaths in New York City, 1400 deaths in South Florida and 11,000 deaths in Washington State by June 2021. In all sites, serological testing blunted subsequent waves of transmission. Findings demonstrate the potential benefit of widespread serological testing, had it been implemented in the pre-vaccine era, and remain relevant now amid the potential for emergence of new variants.