The Role of TestTheTeam
This articles gives an overview of COVID-19 testing and the role TestTheTeam and Surveillance testing can play in managing infection risk.
For more guidance on COVID-19 and surveillance testing, view this page on the FDA's website.
Introduction to Testing
The FDA has identified two different intended uses of testing for COVID-19 infection, testing of “symptomatic” persons, those who believe they may have COVID-19 due to symptoms they are experiencing or who may have been exposed to infected persons, and testing of “asymptomatic” persons, those who are not experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 nor have reason to suspect they have been infected.
Most of the diagnostic tests being performed today are under the intended use category of symptomatic testing. In contrast, the FDA does not regulate surveillance tests, such as that offered by TestTheTeam, which do not give individual results, but rather are used to survey “groups or teams” of asymptomatic persons. These groups may be people who work together, study together, live together, want to socialize together, or just want to be tested together and who do not have symptoms of COVID-19 infection.
Organizations who perform COVID-19 testing use different testing technologies. Largely these tests are either Rapid Tests, which generally give a result within 30-minutes, and molecular testing which need to be run in a laboratory. RT-PCR, often referred to as the gold standard, is a molecular test and generally takes about 12-hours lab and prep-time to run. Molecular tests are generally significantly more specific and sensitive than Rapid Tests and most molecular tests have a sensitivity and specificity of ≥95%. TestTheTeam uses a molecular test developed by BioSpyder. Most molecular tests use nasal swabs for sampling whereas TestTheTeam uses saliva captured in mouthwash.
Why Use a Surveillance Test?
The purpose of using TestTheTeam, or any other surveillance test, is to identify if any of the members of a group are infected, even though they may not be exhibiting symptoms of infection1. Since it is not known whether asymptomatic persons infected with COVID-19 can transmit the infection to others, the assumption needs to be that they can. Thus, TestTheTeam can be used to test groups of persons before they gather, or at regular intervals when working or being together, to identify whether one or more in the group may be infected with COVID-19.
If the virus is detected, members of the group will need to self-isolate and each individual will need to contact their health provider to possibly arrange for diagnostic testing to identify the infected person(s). Isolation and repeat diagnostic, or TestTheTeam testing, of those in the group who are not identified as positive by the diagnostic testing is recommended because it is not known whether others in the group may have been infected.
Strategies for Surveillance Testing
By using TestTheTeam to test groups of persons frequently any newly infected person can be identified early in the course of that infection, so that by early isolation the spread of the infection can be minimized. Thus, most testing will be negative, when a positive result is obtained it is imperative that action be taken to isolate the members of the group and to have them contact their health provider to get diagnostic testing to confirm infection and identify the person who is infected so that appropriate isolation and medical procedures can be pursued.
How TestTheTeam Can Help
Samples for testing can be collected by different methods. The most common is using a swab that is inserted in the nose. There are also tests that use saliva. TestTheTeam uses a sample that is collected by gargling mouthwash. As the mouthwash is familiar, there is no discomfort or risk from use of an unfamiliar sampling method, such as swabs inserted deep within the nose. Also, repeat sampling is non-disruptive, doesn’t require trained health worker supervision, and the samples can be collected where the person works, increasing productivity and convenience.
Publications indicate that the mouthwash we use inactivates the COVID-19 virus, making the contents of the tube safe to handle. If the same grouping of persons is maintained with repeat weekly or biweekly testing, then if there is a positive sample, the organization can identify other groups that had been in close contact with the positive group and take appropriate steps to limit spread by isolation and close monitoring for symptoms of infection. It may also be a good idea to increase the frequency of surveillance testing with TestTheTeam.
Cost benefits of TestTheTeam
Diagnostic testing for asymptomatic people on a regular basis can be cost prohibitive, especially for businesses that are already struggling with the impact of the pandemic. Most asymmetric molecular testing costs over $100 per head. One TestTheTeam kit with four sample tubes is $49.99 (plus shipping and handling). By implementing a regular testing cadence with TestTheTeam, you are likely to detect the virus early, reducing the spread of the virus, reducing the time your team is out of the workplace, and trips to diagnostic testing centers.
The frequency of gathering samples for submission to TestTheTeam differs by group. Some of our customers are establishing a twice weekly testing regiment where they gather samples Monday morning, and then again on Thursday.
Frequency of gathering samples can be determined based on the contact your team/s has with those who may be infected. Instituting a regular testing regime is likely to have the effect of increasing the team’s awareness and adherence to COVID guidelines – no one wants to be responsible for spreading the virus to others.
How We Communicate Results
Each kit has a unique serial number and each of the four sample tubes in the kit has the same serial number. It is important, especially if you order multiple kits, to keep track of the team members who contributed samples to each kit. You will be notified by email from TestTheTeam whether the virus was “detected” or “not detected” for that serial number.