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Mass-testing reduced Liverpool COVID-19 cases by a fifth, study finds

CoronavirusJul 06, 2021 08:30PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People queue at the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing centre in Liverpool, Britain November 6, 2020. REUTERS/Carl Recine

LONDON (Reuters) - A mass rapid-testing scheme reduced COVID-19 cases in the English city of Liverpool by more than a fifth, researchers said on Wednesday, arguing it was an effective public health intervention despite concerns over accuracy of the devices.

The community testing pilot scheme launched in November, and offered everyone in the city tests whether or not they had symptoms, in an attempt to find a new way to use testing to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The study, led by the University of Liverpool with government backing, concluded that community testing led to an 18% increase in case detection and a 21% reduction in cases compared with other areas up to mid-December.

The spread of the Alpha variant first identified in Kent made comparisons between areas more difficult after that point, the researchers said.

"The Liverpool pilot showed that community testing can work, and it works well if it is nationally flexible and locally grounded," Iain Buchan, the University of Liverpool professor leading the trial, told reporters.

Some scientists have questioned the use of rapid lateral flow tests, saying they might do more harm than good, and the U.S. regulator has warned that the performance of the Innova test in use in Britain has not been adequately established.

Despite concerns about the lower accuracy of lateral flow tests compared to PCR tests, the Liverpool researchers said that the devices identified most cases with a high viral load.

The rapid turnaround times had a benefit too, as lateral flow tests give a result in 30 minutes, rather than needing to be processed in a laboratory.

"If it's positive, (people) get immediate reinforcement that they need to take action... we can see it drove down cases," said Calum Semple, Professor of Outbreak Medicine, University of Liverpool.

As part of the study, 283,338 Liverpool residents took a test using a lateral flow device between Nov 6 2020 and April 30 2021.

Mass-testing reduced Liverpool COVID-19 cases by a fifth, study finds
 

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Comments (3)
Notvery Goodathis
Peteymcletey Jul 07, 2021 12:34AM ET
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What happened to batch pool testing?
Kaveh Sun
Kaveh Sun Jul 06, 2021 10:32PM ET
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Crap papper. Vaccines ruduced it nt a fifth
Lewis Martin
Lewis Martin Jul 06, 2021 10:00PM ET
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More intentionally false and misleading reports/headlines. There was no proper control group within that community or design study to reach this conclusion, and the article also reports that the conclusion was reach based on data only between November 2020 and mid-December 2020. Cases/deaths have dropped globally independent of testing, vaccination rates, and lockdowns...with the exception of situations where they have intentionally altered the way cases are reported (such as the US FDA limiting the number of PCR cycles to reduce false positives but only in vaccinated people). They are simply using faulty reported research/statistics to push a narrative while failing to point out flaws and opposing data that is also being heavily published but not reported on.
Lewis Martin
Lewis Martin Jul 06, 2021 10:00PM ET
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Meant CDC for altering ways cases are counted within the US, not FDA. FDA has not even approved the vaccines.
Lewis Martin
Lewis Martin Jul 06, 2021 10:00PM ET
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FDA did, however, require they start putting a warning regarding the vaccines causing heart inflammation.
 
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