Throughout the pandemic, quarantine has been applied as means of controlling the spread of the virus. When you either tested positive for COVID-19 or came in contact with a person who had tested positive, you needed to quarantine. First it was for 14 days, then 10 - but for the last 18 months it has been used all over the world to limit transmission of the virus.
Quarantine is hard. The vast majority of us have experienced it; being isolated at home without being able to go outside hurts our well-being, as well as our connection to the world. It deprives us of our freedom.
Is there a similarly effective way of limiting the transmission of the COVID-19 virus? According to a recent research conducted by the University of Oxford, daily testing can be just as effective as quarantine.
Here is a summary of the research and the results.
What percentage of students and staff contracted the virus after coming in contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19?
To determine whether daily testing can be used for transmission control instead of quarantine.
To reduce students and staff absences from school
Large numbers of students and staff miss many school days due to quarantine policies, which cast a very wide net as safety measures to prevent transmission.
The study wanted to check two things:
A resounding yes for both.
First, only a tiny percentage - between 1.5 and 1.6 percent of students and staff - tested positive for COVID-19 after coming into contact with someone else who had tested positive. Second, daily testing - instead of 10 days quarantine - can reduce absences by up to 39%.
Instead of 10 days quarantine, students and staff alike were required to take rapid antigen tests daily at school. As in any other scientific research, there was a control group that continued abiding by standard quarantine policy.
Rapid antigen tests are very simple to administer since they require a lower nasal swab. Additionally, they return results in about 10 minutes.
The combination of ease of use and quick time to results make rapid antigen tests ideal for education entities like schools and universities, as well as large organizations, to avoid “mass quarantine” of individuals that come in contact with someone who tested positive.
As was demonstrated by the Oxford University research, rapid antigen daily testing reduces absences and allows a more stable routine.