How much COVID testing do we need: (1) Introduction

9th November 2020 – IMPORTANT UPDATE
These estimates that we prepared in April 2020  were never acted on, so we now need much higher levels of testing  capacity. Please see this explanation. We will do our best to produce updated estimates when we can.

The most urgent need today is for Sri Lanka to increase the rate of testing.The current rate of testing—around 250 tests a day—is completely inadequate. It is far less than other developing countries like Bhutan, Maldives and Viet Nam, which have been able to keep the virus at a low level, and far less than the countries we should be copying like Singapore. Many people are asking us how much we need to test. I am going to post here details of IHP’s initial estimates of the testing capacity that Sri Lanka needs by end of April. Before doing that, a few words.

As researchers, we usually write long reports with lots of jargon and data. And to keep other scientists happy, we provide numerous references to support everything we say. For this blog, I haven’t done that. To make it easier for everyone to understand, I have tried to use simple language, avoided using too many numbers, and provided no references. To do this and to keep it short is really hard – much harder than writing long technical reports!

For these estimates, we will provide technical details, so other experts can understand where we got our numbers from, and criticize them if needed. We hope that they will provide us with feedback and corrections to improve them. So if you think we’ve made a mistake, please tell us. Our only goal is to help the country make the best decisions.

Ravi (on behalf of the IHP team)

2 thoughts on “How much COVID testing do we need: (1) Introduction

  1. Tx.Ravi,
    Fully agree with you to step up our testing programmes.What’s your opinion about the private sector doing the test?I feel we should keep the costs for the lowest possible !
    Preethi Wijegoonewardene

    • In the current scenario where the rate of testing is far too low, any additional contribution by the private sector is welcome. However, since the goal is stopping the transmission of the virus, it is critical that the private labs report to Epidemiology Unit, daily or more often, details of every test done, including the result, case history and a personal identifier, so that efficient contact tracing and epidemic assessment can be done. I don’t know to what extent MOH requires this or the extent of the minimum data set that is reported. This should be looked at.

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