THE STAR | Getting ahead of the curve: A comprehensive COVID-19 testing strategy for Canada

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Published: 29May2020

Dick Menzies, professor of medicine and of epidemiology and biostatistics at McGill University, and Tim Grant Evans, director of the McGill School of Population and Global Health, co-authored this article.

"The global pandemic due to the new coronavirus has caused more than 5.4 million confirmed cases worldwide and over 345,000 deaths. Drastic control measures including lockdowns were adopted widely to limit the pandemic, but have had disastrous economic and social consequences, with historic decreases in real GDP and employment levels in Canada.

As pressure to reopen the economy builds, in order to be prepared for a potential second epidemic wave, there is widespread agreement that more testing is necessary. However, we have not seen any coherent testing strategy that accounts for the unique biologic characteristics of COVID-19 and would provide adequate public health protection while reopening the economy.

Any strategy for expanded testing must target asymptomatic persons, as they account for the majority of transmission, and explain why COVID-19 has been so hard to control, compared to other severe respiratory viral illnesses such as SARS."

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