Sputum Testing as the New Mass Screening Method for COVID-19 Patients in India - A Public Health Perspective

Sheikh Mohd Saleem, Sudip Bhattacharya


In December 2019, an unusual form of pneumonia of unknown origin was identified in Wuhan and soon expanded into an intercontinental pandemic that affected nations all over the world. The unusual pneumonia was subsequently named COVID-19. The management of COVID-19 disease has been highly dependent on the early identification of patients who are positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection. For detecting the SARS-CoV-2 virus in upper or lower respiratory tracts, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend strategic sampling approaches. Most countries collect nasopharyngeal swabs and oropharyngeal swabs for rapid viral testing by experienced healthcare workers. Due to the increase in single-day cases, the high cost of RT-PCR, and the requirement for greater coverage in order to detect COVID-19 infections, the screening method has been changed to the Rapid Antigen Test during this phase of the pandemic in India. Considering the limited sensitivity of the fast antigen test compared to the sputum test, and the benefit of having additional resources available from an already established TB network, policymakers should consider implementing COVID-19 with sputum testing. For India, which has 1.3 billion people and limited resources, contemplating a community level sample collection of COVID-19 samples will be an effective decision if scientific data is used for this purpose will be an effective choice for the country with more than 1.3 billion population and limited resources.


COVID‑19; mass screening; procedures; sputum

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