FDA okays “pooled” testing for COVID-19…

A potentially big first step to efficient testing


Over the weekend, the FDA issued an emergency use authorization for pooled samples.

The Quest test is the first COVID-19 diagnostic test to be authorized for use with pooled samples.

Her are details from the FDA press release:


Sample pooling is an important public health tool because it allows for more people to be tested quickly using fewer testing resources.

Sample pooling does this by allowing multiple people to be tested at once.

The samples collected from these individuals are then tested in a pool or “batch” using one test, rather than running each individual sample on its own test.

If the pool is positive, it means that one or more of the individuals tested in that pool may be infected, so each of the samples in that pool are tested again individually.

Quest’s validation data demonstrates that its test correctly identified all of the pooled samples that contained a positive sample.


Because the samples are pooled, it is expected that fewer tests are run overall, meaning fewer testing supplies are used and more tests can be run at the same time allowing patients to receive their results more quickly in most cases.

This testing strategy is most efficient in areas with low prevalence, meaning most results are expected to be negative.

My take: Pooled testing opens up some big opportunities for workplace & schools’ testing.

More on that in future posts.

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