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05.20.21

How Sure Can We Be about a COVID-19 Test Result if the Tests Are Not Perfectly Accurate?

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In a new Cleveland Fed Economic Commentary, researchers show how even a highly reliable COVID-19 test can produce inaccurate results when the prevalence of a virus is low in the tested population. To address this finding, the authors argue that administering inexpensive and less precise tests multiple times may be a more efficient way of curbing the pandemic than administering more precise and expensive tests once.

“Repeated testing can be even more important when the prevalence of a disease is low,” say researchers Allan Dizioli and Roberto Pinheiro. “Given limited public budgets, cheap and less precise tests that can be conducted multiple times can be more efficient in curbing the pandemic than expensive more precise tests conducted less often.”

Read the Economic Commentary: How Sure Can We Be about a COVID-19 Test Result if the Tests Are Not Perfectly Accurate?

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