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Strategic testing approaches for targeted disease monitoring can be used to inform pandemic decision-making.

Abstract

More than 1.6 million Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) tests were administered daily in the United States at the peak of the epidemic, with a significant focus on individual treatment. Here, we show that objective-driven, strategic sampling designs and analyses can maximize information gain at the population level, which is necessary to increase situational awareness and predict, prepare for, and respond to a pandemic, while also continuing to inform individual treatment. By focusing on specific objectives such as individual treatment or disease prediction and control (e.g., via the collection of population-level statistics to inform lockdown measures or vaccine rollout) and drawing from the literature on capture-recapture methods to deal with nonrandom sampling and testing errors, we illustrate how public health objectives can be achieved even with limited test availability when testing programs are designed a priori to meet those objectives.

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Katriona Shea

Professor of Biology and Alumni Professor in the Biological Sciences
Penn State University

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