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Review 3: "Reopening universities during the COVID-19 pandemic: A testing strategy to minimize active cases and delay outbreaks"

Pre-entry screening of students entering universities for COVID-19 may help limit the spread of COVID-19, but further analysis is warranted to know the true impact. The modeling is too simple for a complex situation, and should take into account other critical factors.

Published onSep 02, 2020
Review 3: "Reopening universities during the COVID-19 pandemic: A testing strategy to minimize active cases and delay outbreaks"

RR:C19 Evidence Scale rating by reviewer:

  • Strong. The main study claims are very well-justified by the data and analytic methods used. There is little room for doubt that the study produced has very similar results and conclusions as compared with the hypothetical ideal study. The study’s main claims should be considered conclusive and actionable without reservation.

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Review:

This is a modeling study assessing the impact of testing for SARS-CoV-2 when students first return to a university campus on the timing and size of the subsequent development spread of infections among students on the campus, under a range of assumptions regarding the effectiveness of control measures. Not surprisingly, baseline testing does delay or reduce the size of subsequent outbreaks, but does not prevent them from occurring. The findings are, given the assumptions in the model, useful to those considering how best to re-open university campuses as SARS-CoV-2 continues to circulate widely in the community. Addition to the model of the effects of periodic re-testing of all or a sample of students at various frequencies would add to its value, but was beyond the scope of the current manuscript. The writing is clear, although I prefer to refer to "infections" rather than "cases" when referring to asymptomatic individuals, and in the 2nd to last sentence in the abstract, I am not convinced that "inadequate pre-semester testing" correctly describes the total absence of such testing.

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