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For Quick Coronavirus Testing, Israel Turns to a Clever Algorithm


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Testing pooled samples.

Israeli scientists successfully detected coronavirus positives in pools of 16 and 48 samples with a new testing procedure.

Credit: Dan Balilty/The New York Times

A team of three Israeli scientists has pioneered a coronavirus testing procedure that they say is faster and more efficient than any now in use, testing samples in pools of as many as 48 people at once.

The Israeli government plans to roll out the new method in 12 labs across the country by October, anticipating that another wave of coronavirus infections could coincide with influenza season with potentially calamitous results.

"We're doing everything we can in order to be ready," said Ronen Walfisch, an engineer at the defense ministry who oversaw a pilot project to test the method's efficacy. The method passed with flying colors, he said.

Moran Szwarcwort Cohen, who runs the virology lab at Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa, said the new pooled-testing method, which was formally approved for clinical use by the Israeli health ministry on Tuesday, could allow schools, college campuses, businesses and airlines to clear whole groups of people far faster than has been possible until now.

 

From The New York Times
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