Publications Repository - Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf
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How optimal allocation of limited testing capacity changes epidemic dynamics
Insufficient testing capacity continues to be a critical bottleneck in the worldwide fight against COVID-19. Optimizing the deployment of limited testing resources has therefore emerged as a keystone problem in pandemic response planning. Here, we use a modified SEIR model to optimize testing strategies under a constraint of limited testing capacity. We define pre-symptomatic, asymptomatic, and symptomatic infected classes, and assume that positively tested individuals are immediately moved into quarantine. We further define two types of testing. Clinical testing focuses only on the symptomatic class. Non-clinical testing detects pre- and asymptomatic individuals from the general population, and an information parameter governs the degree to which such testing can be focused on high infection risk individuals. We then solve for the optimal mix of clinical and non-clinical testing as a function of both testing capacity and the information parameter. We find that purely clinical testing is optimal at very low testing capacities, supporting early guidance to ration tests for the sickest patients.
Additionally, we find that a mix of clinical and non-clinical testing becomes optimal as testing capacity increases. At high but empirically observed testing capacities, a mix of clinical testing and unfocused (information=0) non-clinical testing becomes optimal. We further highlight the dvantages of early implementation of testing programs, and of combining optimized testing with contact reduction interventions such as lockdowns, social distancing, and masking.
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