New research from College of Texas researchers discovered that delays in COVID-19 contact tracing undermined the potency of efforts to avoid further spread from the virus in Austin.
The study describes contact tracing like a well-established public health strategy put in spot to curb multiplication of infectious illnesses. Using that process, people who have interacted by having an infected person are notified to allow them to follow suggested procedures, stated Darlene Bhavnani, a helper professor within the department of population health at UT’s Dell School Of Medicine.
Researchers examined contact tracing data from UT and also the surrounding Austin area. The research discovered that, typically, it required 2 days to inform individuals around the UT campus who was simply in touch with someone have contracted COVID-19 and 5 days to inform contacts within the wider Austin area.
“We discovered that on campus, individuals delays … are considerably less than individuals within the entire Austin community,” stated Xutong Wang, the study’s lead author.
Wang stated delays happened at multiple levels within the contact tracing process, so the study divided delay data into three segments: testing, result turnaround some time and contact tracing. Initial delays in testing came about from people waiting to obtain tested until days once they started exhibiting signs and symptoms. Delays also stemmed in the different intervals it required for labs to process the outcomes of COVID-19 tests.
Consequently, delays in touch tracing resulted in individuals who have been uncovered for an infected person weren’t notified until days after their interaction.
“What I believe will work better to place more effort on would be to shorten the exam turnaround time,” Wang stated. “Those PCR exams are really fast and accurate … but we have seen a minimum of each day — 2 days to even two days if it is too busy.”
Bhavnani also stated that decreasing test turnaround time is essential to shortening delays.
“Expanded lab capacity along with the growth and development of rapid tests — which makes them available and available to people when needed — is actually likely to enhance the timing by which we address this test, trace and isolate strategy,” Bhavnani stated.
When done effectively, contact tracing is a practicable tool not just to avoid the further spread of COVID-19, but additionally to battle newer viral threats for example monkeypox, Bhavnani stated.
“What we have to do is make certain again that people purchase that infrastructure now, to ensure that it’s available and also the processes are very well understood which capacity can be obtained, should we have to draw on there to respond to new pandemics,” Bhavnani stated. “Although (the research) took it’s origin from data from 2020, we are able to really learn training on how to strengthen contact tracing now as well as in future.”
This story was initially printed through the Daily Texan, the independent newspaper created by College of Texas students.