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Frequent Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Testing Predicted to Improve Early Treatment Benefits in High-Risk Individuals

Frequent at-home rapid testing for SARS-CoV-2 infections, combined with treatment for high-risk individuals, can dial down COVID-19 hospitalization risk, according to new research from investigators based at Harvard University, Oxford University, and Imperial College London. As they report in Nature Communications, the researchers relied on computational modeling to look at the consequences of different at-home rapid testing intervals in high-risk individuals expected to benefit from early treatment with antivirals such as Pfizer's protease inhibitor nirmatrelvir (used in combination with ritonavir in Paxlovid). The team's quantitative analyses suggested that treatment delays are reduced and treatment benefits bumped up in individuals tested every second day rather than every second week, for example, which is expected to reduce the risks and expenses associated with more severe disease. "[W]e characterized how rapid testing may facilitate treatment benefits among those most likely to be hospitalized, with more frequent testing yielding the best results," the authors write, noting that "regular testing is potentially cost-saving, particularly in high-prevalence settings, as it is associated with dramatically reducing hospitalizations, which may outweigh the costs of testing and treatment distribution."