Methodology for estimating point prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection by pooled RT-PCR testing

Public health guidance

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Methodology for estimating point prevalence of SARSCoV-2 infection by pooled RT-PCR testing. Stockholm: ECDC; 2020.

The scope of this document is to provide EU/EEA Member States and the UK with technical guidance for
estimating the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infected cases, through a cross sectional study design based on
pooled sampling for RT-PCR testing on a random population sample.

The proposed methodology is for surveillance purposes and does not address pooled testing for clinical (i.e.
diagnostic) or public health (e.g. contact tracing, infection prevention and control, screening) management of

The goal is to provide a tool to monitor the activity of the disease with high efficiency in terms of laboratory
resources. The methodology provides a way to estimate prevalence from the results of a pooled RT-PCR test,
without the need to identify individual test results, and the statistical foundation for the strategy. We further
provide a method to optimise the pooling strategy with input for sample size decisions. Finally, we also provide
an in-house R package to help public health authorities define a strategy and analyse the results.

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