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We sampled nasal-pharyngeal throat swabs from 96,123 asymptomatic individuals at risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and generated 22,290 pools at collection, each containing samples from two to seven individuals. We detected SARS-CoV-2 in 24 pools, and confirmed the infection in 32 individuals after resampling and testing of 104 samples from positive pools. We completed the testing within 14 days. We would have required 64 days to complete the screening for the same number of individuals if we had based our testing strategy on individual testing. There was no difference in cycle threshold (Ct) values of pooled and individual samples. Thus, compared with individual sample testing, our approach did not compromise PCR sensitivity, but saved 77% of the resources. The present strategy might be applicable in settings, where there are shortages of reagents and the disease prevalence is low, but the demand for testing is high.

Original publication




Journal article


The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene

Publication Date



1Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Da Nang, Vietnam.