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As schools prepare to reopen to all students in February, experts warn the UK government’s plans for mass testing could put the spread of COVID-19 at risk.

Professor Jon Deeks and colleagues from the Royal Statistical Society write in the BMJ that using the INNOVA rapid lateral flow tests to manage outbreaks in the classroom without isolating close contacts increases the spread of disease and further disrupts children’s education could.

Before Christmas, schools restricted student mix and activity and isolated student groups at home once a COVID-19 case was identified. This year, the government is relying on INNOVA rapid side flow tests to massage staff and students, and to test close contacts on confirmed COVID cases.

As part of this “series test” strategy, close contacts remain in the school, are tested daily for seven days and only sent home if they test positive.

However, scientists are concerned that negative Innova results are too imprecise to rule out COVID, warn Deeks and colleagues. For example, the MHRA approval for INNOVA precludes the use of negative results to “activate activities,” and the Chief Medical Officer, World Health Organization, Royal College of Pathologists, SAGE, and others have also advised caution.

“There is a real risk that the strategy of serial testing of contacts will increase rather than decrease COVID cases in schools,” they warn.

They point out that in six studies of people with symptoms, INNOVA identified 58 to 96% of cases compared to the “gold standard” PCR test and decreased test performance when not performed by experts, as is the case in schools will be.

But students tested in schools have no symptoms, and three studies in asymptomatic people show the test scores worse, they add.

While INNOVA bulk tests detect some of these cases, many of them are overlooked and the negative tests are falsely reassured if they are not properly informed of the test’s limitations, they argue.

They warn that students who test negative can become infected and spread the virus before testing positive and isolating, and that clinically vulnerable students or classroom staff are at particularly high risk.

“This proposed strategy ultimately uses negative INNOVA results to allow students to stay in school contrary to MHRA restriction and scientific advice,” they write.

They ask for a rigorous evaluation of the new strategy against other testing options, such as: B. Using a PCR test until it is released after 5 days (as required for travelers) to check whether the benefits of each strategy outweigh the harm, especially given the increased risk of transmission of the new variant.

They acknowledge that home isolation has a serious impact on children, families and teachers, but say, “If INNOVA tests in schools put the spread of the disease at risk, it can lead to even more disruptive education and far more people endanger. ”

The UK government urgently needs to rethink the introduction of cross-flow tests, experts warn

More information:
Opinion: Covid-19 INNOVA tests in schools: Don’t just test, evaluate,… t-just-test-evaluate Provided by the British Medical Journal

Quote: School examination plans can further spread COVID-19, experts warn (2021, January 12), accessed on January 13, 2021 from were

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