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Home Columns Health Mass self-screening: Could it bring the pandemic to an end?

Mass self-screening: Could it bring the pandemic to an end?

Last updated 3 months ago by Michael Darmanin

The Netherlands entered 2021 under partial lockdown. With the earliest end-date (19th of January) in sight, discussions begin. The government is trying to find the best way forward.

Taking ones own initiative

One idea that is receiving more and more attention is mass screening. The idea is relatively simple: every person, symptomatic or not, would have to test themselves approximately once a month. The aim of this approach is to identify those carrying the virus faster. Frequent testing will then enable people to self-quarantine and reduce the spread of the virus more, when compared to only testing symptomatic cases.

Light at the end of the tunnel?

Thankfully we do not have to put anyone’s life at risk to test this idea. Epidemiologists and mathematicians from Utrecht University conducted an analysis using mathematical modelling. They simulated a scenario in which mass screening would be used. The results are not very encouraging.

First, the study assumed a reproduction number of 2.5 which entails that each infected person will in turn infect 2.5 other people. Alongside this, it was also assumed that social distancing was not followed. From this starting point, every person should get tested approximately once every three days to get the reproduction number to 1. The results from a second scenario, in which social distancing was followed, indicate that 60% of the registered population would have to go and get tested every week in order to keep the virus under control.

Although this might not seem too encouraging, we can find solace in something else. That is that the world’s brightest minds from all fields are working tirelessly to bring the pandemic to an end. Every solution rejected brings us closer to the one solution that will work.

Silviu Alexandru Costea
Silviu Alexandru Costea
Silviu A. Costea is a psychology student with a deep appreciation for beauty, may it be in art, science, nature, or anywhere else. With his passion for writing and experience as an international student, he is dedicated to providing quality content on various topics. He is a keen listener and he is convinced that everyone has a story worth sharing.


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