Coronavirus (294) Boosting test-efficiency by pooled testing strategies for SARS-CoV-2

1 April, 2020

Dear all,

In the current COVID19 crisis many national healthcare systems are confronted with an acute shortage of tests for confirming SARS-CoV-2 infections. For low overall infection levels in the population, pooling of samples can drastically amplify the testing efficiency. Here we present a formula to estimate the optimal pooling size, the efficiency gain (tested persons per test), and the expected upper bound of missed infections in the pooled testing, all as a function of the population- wide infection levels and the false negative/positive rates of the currently used PCR tests. Assuming an infection level of 0.1 % and a false negative rate of 2 %, the optimal pool size is about 32, the efficiency gain is about 15 tested persons per test. For an infection level of 1 % the optimal pool size is 11, the efficiency gain is 5.1 tested persons per test. For an infection level of 10 % the optimal pool size reduces to about 4, the efficiency gain is about 1.7 tested persons per test. For infection levels of 30 % and higher there is no more benefit from pooling. To see to what extent replicates of the pooled tests improve the estimate of the maximal number of missed infections, we present all results for 1, 3, and 5 replicates.

Read the whole article about the pooled testing here

Anna E. Schmaus-Klughammer (LLB hons)


Member of the Scientific Staff - Hochschule Deggendorf

One World Medical Network e.V.

Ulrichsbergerstrasse 17

94469 Deggendorf



Phone +49 991 99892343

Fax +49 991 99892345


HIFA profile: Anna E Schmaus-Klughammer is president of the association "One World Medical Network". The goal of the association is to improve medical care in LMICs (Low and Middle Income Countries).Our activities start from building primary and specialized health care facilities and continue to organize national cancer screening with connections to national and international expert doctors using telemedicine networks. Training of medical personnel is also an important part of the work of the association.

One World Medical Network e.V., Ulrichsbergerstrasse 17, Deggendorf in Germany.