How to design and implement a university-based COVID-19 testing programme? An evaluation of a novel RT-LAMP COVID-19 testing programme in a UK university
Little is known about how asymptomatic testing as a method to control transmission of COVID-19 can be implemented, and the prevalence of asymptomatic infection within university populations. The objective of this study was to investigate how to effectively set-up and implement a COVID-19 testing programme using novel reverse transcriptase loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) technology and to quantify the scale of asymptomatic infection on a university campus.
An observational study to describe the set-up and implementation of a novel COVID-19 testing programme on a UK university campus between September and December 2020. RT-LAMP testing was used to identify asymptomatic cases.
A total of 1,673 tests were performed using RT-LAMP during the study period, of which 9 were positive for COVID-19, giving an overall positivity rate of 0.54%, equivalent to a rate in the tested population of 538 cases per 100,000 over the duration of testing. All positive tests were found to be positive on RT-PCR testing, giving a false positive rate of 0%.
This study shows that it is possible to rapidly setup a universal university testing programme for COVID-19 in collaboration with local healthcare providers using RT-LAMP testing. Positive results were comparable to those in the local population, though with a different peak of infection. Further research to inform the design of the testing programme includes focus groups of those who underwent testing and further interrogation of the demographics of those opting to be tested to identify potential access problems or inequalities.
Author affiliationGenetic Epidemiology and Public Health, Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester
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