Massive molecular testing for COVID-19 has been pointed out as fundamental to moderate the spread of the pandemic. Pooling methods can enhance testing efficiency, but they are viable only at low incidences of the disease. We propose Smart Pooling, a machine learning method that uses clinical and sociodemographic data from patients to increase the efficiency of informed Dorfman testing for COVID-19 by arranging samples into all-negative pools. To do this, we ran an automated method to train numerous machine learning models on a retrospective dataset from more than 8000 patients tested for SARS-CoV-2 from April to July 2020 in Bogotá, Colombia. We estimated the efficiency gains of using the predictor to support Dorfman testing by simulating the outcome of tests. We also computed the attainable efficiency gains of non-adaptive pooling schemes mathematically. Moreover, we measured the false-negative error rates in detecting the ORF1ab and N genes of the virus in RT-qPCR dilutions. Finally, we presented the efficiency gains of using our proposed pooling scheme on proof-of-concept pooled tests. We believe Smart Pooling will be efficient for optimizing massive testing of SARS-CoV-2.

Fuente: Scientific Reports

Published: 20 April 2022