Proposed COVID-19 testing strategy faces pitfalls

Workers greet people in a car at a nearly empty COVID-19... A COVID-19 testing site in Flordia. | Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

When someone gets a COVID-19 test, the result does one thing: tells that person if they have the coronavirus in their body. Some researchers, though, are trying to get tests to do more — and reframing the goal of testing as a result. Instead of simply finding people who are infected with the virus, they’d prefer to focus on finding people who are infectious and at risk of spreading it to other people.

The proposal offers one possible way to get the pandemic under control in the US. It would allow for a more targeted approach to isolation and quarantine and help give people a better understanding of when they’re most at risk to others.

It would be a big change in how we think about testing. Clinicians have never used tests for…

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