COVID-19 Control: Scale-up and detection of asymptomatic carriers crucial to flattening the curve
Updated: Sep 15, 2020 5:16 PM
A path-breaking solution and a small ray of light in this regard is the application of the smart one-step pooling technology.
However, as numbers have been rising and community spread has taken over, contact tracing is no more the answer.
By Dr Sudha Rao
COVID-19 control: A global pandemic, COVID-19 has been a blip for most generations that are currently alive. Its unprecedented scale and the challenges that it has posed alongside globalisation, have taken the entire world by storm. With an early lockdown imposed and contact tracing measures in place, the situation was in control in the initial phase. However, as numbers have been rising and community spread has taken over, contact tracing is no more the answer.
Expeditious and affordable diagnostic measures are increasingly necessary now. Given the rapid increase in the number of cases, mass screening and testing of asymptomatic carriers are absolutely necessary to flatten the curve and accelerate our return to normalcy. qPCR which is currently being used for testing can no longer be the only option because of its high turnaround time for mass screening.
The strange thing about something so novel is that the whole world has been literally learning together. And behind the scenes of the battle against COVID-19 are countless scientists and researchers pouring their efforts into combatting the pandemic. From vaccine development to treatment regimens, laboratories across the world are relentlessly working on a solution. It’s almost as if the earth’s collective brain is hard at work.
However, in the current scenario, low cost, rapid mass-testing methods remain the need of the hour. A path-breaking solution and a small ray of light in this regard is the application of the smart one-step pooling technology. Unlike the conventional Dorfman method, the single-step pooling method identifies the infected sample in a pool without the need to test individual samples in case a pool tests positive. In this single-step technology developed by Tel-Aviv based Israeli researchers, the samples are pooled using advanced mathematical algorithms, enabling identification of the infected sample in a single step.
This amalgamation of biology and mathematical algorithms can help to scale up testing massively and detect asymptomatic carriers, seamlessly plugging into any existing high-throughput SARS-CoV-2 testing lab and ongoing protocols and operations. Scale-up and detection of identifying asymptomatic carriers are absolutely crucial to flattening the curve. This innovation is not only cost-effective but also reduces the sample-to-result time to less than half compared to the currently used method.
It is these kinds of efforts that truly highlight the essence of humanity and innovation. The global research fraternity has been in a race against COVID-19 and rarely before have collective scientific efforts been so urgently important. Together, on a global level, we are truly attacking the virus from all directions, standing in solidarity with each other through it all, to bring people’s lives and the economy back to a state of normalcy.
The columnist is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Genotypic Technology Pvt. Ltd. Views expressed are the author’s own.