Background: As SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are administered worldwide, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exact significant human and economic costs. Mass testing of unvaccinated individuals followed by isolation of positive cases can substantially mitigate risks and be tailored to local epidemiological conditions to ensure cost effectiveness.
Methods: Using a multi-scale model that incorporates population-level SARS-CoV-2 transmission and individual-level viral load kinetics, we identify the optimal frequency of proactive SARS-CoV-2 testing, depending on the local transmission rate and proportion immunized.
Findings: Assuming a willingness-to-pay of US dollars 100,000 per averted year of life lost (YLL) and a price of 10 dollars per test, the optimal strategy under a rapid transmission scenario (Re ∼ 2.5) is daily testing until one third of the population is immunized and then weekly testing until half the population is immunized, combined with a 10-day isolation period of positive cases and their households. Under a low transmission scenario (Re ∼ 1.2), the optimal sequence is weekly testing until the population reaches 10% partial immunity, followed by monthly testing until 20% partial immunity, and no testing thereafter.
Interpretation: Mass proactive testing and case isolation is a cost effective strategy for mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic in the initial stages of the global SARS-CoV-2 vaccination campaign and in response to resurgences of vaccine-evasive variants.
Recommended citation: Du, Z., Wang, L., Bai, Y., Wang, X., Pandey, A., Fitzpatrick, M.C., Chinazzi, M., Pastore y Piontti, A., Hupert, N., Lachmann, M., Vespignani, A. Galvani, A.P., Cowling, B.J., & Meyers, L.A. (2022) "Cost-effective proactive testing strategies during COVID-19 mass vaccination: A modelling study". The Lancet Regional Health - Americas, 8, 100182. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lana.2021.100182