Impact of SARS-CoV-2 Arrival Surveillance Screening by Nucleic Acid Amplification Versus Rapid Antigen Detection on Subsequent COVID-19 Infections in Military Trainees

Daniel J. Cybulski*, Zachary Matthews, John W. Kieffer, Theresa M. Casey, Angela B. Osuna, Korey Kasper, Dianne N. Frankel, James Aden, Heather C. Yun, Joseph E. Marcus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: For persons entering congregate settings, optimal severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) arrival surveillance screening method, nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) versus rapid antigen detection test (RADT), is debated. To aid this, we sought to determine the risk of secondary symptomatic coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) among military trainees with negative arrival NAAT or RADT screening. Methods: Individuals who arrived for US Air Force basic military training from 1 January-31 August 2021 were placed into training groups and screened for SARS-CoV-2 via NAAT or RADT. Secondary symptomatic COVID-19 cases within 2 weeks of training were then measured. A case cluster was defined as ≥5 individual symptomatic COVID-19 cases. Results: 406 (1.6%) of 24 601 trainees screened positive upon arrival. The rate of positive screen was greater for those tested with NAAT versus RADT (2.5% vs 0.4%; RR: 5.4; 95% CI: 4.0-7.3; P <. 001). The proportion of training groups with ≥1 positive individual screen was greater in groups screened via NAAT (57.5% vs 10.8%; RR: 5.31; 95% CI: 3.65-7.72; P <. 001). However, NAAT versus RADT screening was not associated with a difference in number of training groups to develop a secondary symptomatic case (20.3% vs 22.5%; RR:. 9; 95% CI:. 66-1.23; P =. 53) or case cluster of COVID-19 (4% vs 6.6%; RR:. 61; 95% CI:. 3-1.22; P =. 16). Conclusions: NAAT versus RADT arrival surveillance screening method impacted individual transmission of COVID-19 but had no effect on number of training groups developing a secondary symptomatic case or case cluster. This study provides consideration for RADT arrival screening in congregate settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-69
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Volume78
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2024
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2 screening
  • military trainees

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