2022 journal article
The Impact of Testing Capacity and Compliance With Isolation on COVID-19: A Mathematical Modeling Study
AJPM Focus, 1(1), 100006.
•Starting testing programs early is effective in reducing the infection spread.•Starting testing programs early also leads to less self-isolation in total.•Higher symptomatic isolation compliance is favored if early testing is unavailable.•Delay in the start of testing results in extra testing capacity to make up. IntroductionDiagnostic tests can play an important role in reducing the transmission of infectious respiratory diseases, particularly during a pandemic. The potential benefit of diagnostic testing depends on at least 4 factors: (1) how soon testing becomes available after the beginning of the pandemic and (2) at what capacity; (3) compliance with isolation after testing positive; and (4) compliance with isolation when experiencing symptoms, even in the absence of testing.MethodsTo understand the interplay between these factors and provide further insight into policy decisions for future pandemics, we developed a compartmental model and simulated numerous scenarios using the dynamics of COVID-19 as a case study.ResultsOur results quantified the significant benefits of early start of testing and high compliance with isolation. Early start of testing, even with low testing capacity over time, could significantly slow down the disease spread if compliance with isolation is high. By contrast, when the start of testing was delayed, the benefit of testing on reducing infection spread was limited, even when testing capacity was high; the additional testing capacity required increased superlinearly for each day of delay to achieve a similar infection attack rate as in starting testing earlier.ConclusionsOur study highlighted the importance of the early start of testing and public health messaging to promote isolation compliance when needed for an ongoing effective response to COVID-19 and future pandemics.