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Testing Program Led to Fewer Hospitalizations

Mass lateral flow testing for SARS-CoV-2 in Liverpool cut the number of hospitalizations by about a third, according to the Guardian.

Liverpool implemented a pilot program of city-wide lateral flow testing in November 2020, which was later expanded in February 2021. There was, the Guardian notes, debate at the time as to whether or not lateral flow testing was sensitive enough to detect SARS-CoV-2 among asymptomatic individuals. Last November, the Guardian reported that an analysis by Public Health England and the University of Oxford found the tests to be 99.6 percent accurate, but a University of Birmingham researcher disagreed with their assessment and instead said that when used as a screening tool, lateral flow testing could miss a number of cases.

A new analysis by the University of Liverpool's Iain Buchan and colleagues found that the Liverpool testing program was associated with 32 percent fewer COVID-19 hospitalizations than other regions without such testing, the Guardian reports. The analysis further found that within a subset of 1,657 participants in a test-to-release program for key workers, there were 34 COVID-19 cases, three of which were missed by daily lateral flow testing.