The strategy of mass testing in schools could increase cases of the virus, experts have warned.
In the BMJ, academics including Jon Deeks, professor of biostatistics at the University of Birmingham, said using tests to manage outbreaks in the classroom, without isolating close contacts, may increase the spread of the disease. disease.
They also said the strategy was “against” scientific guidelines.
The testing strategy will see staff at secondary schools and colleges in England offering weekly testing.
And a “serial testing” program will mean that students and staff will be tested if they come in contact with a positive case.
This approach, also known as the “daily contact test,” will allow those who are in close contact with someone who has tested positive to return to school or college if they agree to be tested for a while. seven days after the last contact with a positive case and the test is negative.
Professor Deeks, who is also head of research for the Cochrane Covid-19 test evaluation review and other experts, also said: ‘Scientists are particularly concerned that the negative results from Innova (flow tests lateral) are too inaccurate to exclude Covid. “
They said serial close contact testing ‘could increase rather than reduce cases of Covid in schools’
They said serial testing of close contacts “may increase rather than decrease cases of Covid in schools.”
Indeed, “the possibility that certain close infected contacts will test negative and spread the virus is not negligible”.
This type of mass test could detect some pre-symptomatic cases, but “will miss a lot” and “will wrongly reassure those who test negative, if they are not properly informed of the limitations of the test,” the authors said. .
Covid-19 and PPE test kits at Oasis Academy Coulsdon in South London
“Home isolation has a big impact on children, families and teachers,” the article concludes.
“But if the Innova tests in schools risk spreading the disease more widely, it can cause even more disruption to education and put many more people at risk.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Affairs said: “About one in three people with coronavirus have no symptoms, which means they can pass the disease without knowing it.
“To protect the health of faculty and students, we are making rapid-result coronavirus tests available to schools and colleges to enable them to regularly test staff and students.
“We are examining how daily contact testing modalities and repeated testing can help find people without symptoms of coronavirus and break the chains of transmission.”