Testing, tracing should go hand in hand, says Dr. G.V.S. Murthy
PHFI’s IIPH-Hyderabad Director Dr. G.V.S. Murthy reiterated testing and tracing for COVID-19 should go “hand in hand”. There was an initial thrust on contact-tracing protocols but the surge of positive cases simply overwhelmed the health systems — already strained due to shortage of personnel, and the effective tracing has therefore faltered. “This could have been avoided if the governments concerned had called upon other staff and community leadership, trained them and equipped them for contact tracing. Unfortunately, this has not happened and only testing was ramped up and tracing given a short shrift,” he points out.
Digital applications were launched with a lot of fanfare and had tremendous potential for tracing, but this potential was hardly harnessed. A review of 94 studies showed the overall estimate of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 and asymptomatic was 20%. It means majority of infected show some symptoms of COVID-19 which may remain unrecognised or are hidden due to stigma, he explains.
The more such people are tested, the higher will be the test positivity. So there will be a direct relationship between testing and case positivity. To increase the yield of cases through effective tracing will reduce the transmission and that is why testing and tracing should go hand-in-hand, he maintained.
India at nearly 48,000 tests per million population is at the 8th spot in terms of testing volumes and in 2nd spot just after US in case load at 4,085 cases per million population