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Cost-effectiveness of a whole-area testing pilot of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections with lateral flow devices: a modelling and economic analysis study

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posted on 2022-10-12, 16:00 authored by Mark Drakesmith, Brendan Collins, Angela Jones, Kelechi Nnoaham, Daniel Rhys Thomas

 Background: Mass community testing for SARS-CoV-2 by lateral fow devices (LFDs) aims to reduce prevalence in the community. However its efectiveness as a public heath intervention is disputed. Method: Data from a mass testing pilot in the Borough of Merthyr Tydfl in late 2020 was used to model cases, hospitalisations, ICU admissions and deaths prevented. Further economic analysis with a healthcare perspective assessed cost-efectiveness in terms of healthcare costs avoided and QALYs gained. Results: An initial conservative estimate of 360 (95% CI: 311–418) cases were prevented by the mass testing, representing a would-be reduction of 11% of all cases diagnosed in Merthyr Tydfl residents during the same period. Modelling healthcare burden estimates that 24 (16—36) hospitalizations, 5 (3–6) ICU admissions and 15 (11–20) deaths were prevented, representing 6.37%, 11.1% and 8.2%, respectively of the actual counts during the same period. A less conservative, best-case scenario predicts 2333 (1764–3115) cases prevented, representing 80% reduction in wouldbe cases. Cost -efectiveness analysis indicates 108 (80–143) QALYs gained, an incremental cost-efectiveness ratio of £2,143 (£860-£4,175) per QALY gained and net monetary beneft of £6.2 m (£4.5 m-£8.4 m). In the best-case scenario, this increases to £15.9 m (£12.3 m-£20.5 m). Conclusions: A non-negligible number of cases, hospitalisations and deaths were prevented by the mass testing pilot. Considering QALYs gained and healthcare costs avoided, the pilot was cost-efective. These fndings suggest mass testing with LFDs in areas of high prevalence (>2%) is likely to provide signifcant public health beneft. It is not yet clear whether similar benefts will be obtained in low prevalence settings or with vaccination rollout 


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BMC Health Services Research




  • VoR (Version of Record)


Drakesmith, M., Collins, B., Jones, A., Nnoaham, K. and Thomas, D.R. (2022) 'Cost-effectiveness of a whole-area testing pilot of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections with lateral flow devices: a modelling and economic analysis study',. BMC Health Services Research, 22(1), pp.1-12.

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Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences

Cardiff Met Authors

Daniel Rhys Thomas

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Microbiology & Infection

Copyright Holder

  • © The Authors


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