Group testing as a strategy for COVID-19 epidemiological monitoring and community surveillance

PLoS Comput Biol. 2021 Mar 4;17(3):e1008726. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1008726. eCollection 2021 Mar.


We propose an analysis and applications of sample pooling to the epidemiologic monitoring of COVID-19. We first introduce a model of the RT-qPCR process used to test for the presence of virus in a sample and construct a statistical model for the viral load in a typical infected individual inspired by large-scale clinical datasets. We present an application of group testing for the prevention of epidemic outbreak in closed connected communities. We then propose a method for the measure of the prevalence in a population taking into account the increased number of false negatives associated with the group testing method.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / diagnosis*
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • COVID-19 / virology
  • COVID-19 Testing / methods*
  • Datasets as Topic
  • Epidemiological Monitoring*
  • Group Processes*
  • Humans
  • Luxembourg / epidemiology
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Prevalence
  • SARS-CoV-2 / isolation & purification*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this work.