Organizations have been exploring “pooling” of samples when performing SARS-CoV-2 testing to increase testing throughput and decrease cost. Because it allows for more people to be tested quickly using fewer testing resources, sample pooling is an important tool to help control the spread of SARS-CoV-2.
What is Sample Pooling for Coronavirus Testing?
When samples are pooled prior to coronavirus testing several samples are mixed together and then the pooled sample is tested with a single test. If the pooled sample is positive, each sample that was pooled is then tested individually to identify the sample with COVID-19. If COVID-19 is not detected in the sample, all of the samples in the pool are considered negative.
What are the Advantages of Pooling SARS-CoV-2 Samples?
Because the samples are pooled, it is expected that fewer tests are run overall, meaning fewer testing supplies are used and more tests can be run at the same time. This should allow patients to receive their results faster.
Additionally using pooling enables labs to increase their throughput while reducing their cost/sample.
What Populations Benefit from Pooling Prior to SARS-CoV-2 Testing?
This testing strategy is most efficient when a large number of people are being tested for COVID-19 and most results are expected to be negative.
Using Sample Pooling to Screen Students
Dr. Ravindra Kolhe of the state medical school at Augusta University in Georgia is using mass population screening in the fight against COVID-19. In a recent interview, Dr Kolhe describes the pooling strategy his lab is implementing to test anywhere between 10,000 and 60,000 students coming in through Augusta’s doors this fall.