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Revista Argentina de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 1852-8724On-line version ISSN 1853-810X


ESANDI, María del Carmen et al. COVID-19 epidemiological surveillance through pool testing focused on asymptomatic healthcare workers in the city of Bahía Blanca. Rev. argent. salud pública [online]. 2022, vol.14, suppl.1, pp.55-55.  Epub Sep 12, 2022. ISSN 1852-8724.


One of the most important challenges at the beginning of the pandemic was to implement strategies to prevent SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission and reduce the impact of COVID-19. The purpose of this study was to contribute to the reduction of community transmission through an interinstitutional initiative, aimed at validating a SARS-CoV-2 RNA detection method, and at implementing and assessing the surveillance of asymptomatic infected healthcare workers (HCWs) at public health institutions in the city of Bahía Blanca.


To validate a coronavirus RNA detection method, RNA was extracted from nasopharyngeal swabs and identification of the viral E gene was done by RT-PCR. Validation of sample pooling was performed to increase the testing capacity. A prospective cohort study was conducted from 15 September 2020 to 15 September 2021.


The sensitivity and specificity of the test in individual samples was 95% (CI 95%: 85%-100%). The sensitivity of the pooling strategy was 73% (CI 95%: 46%-99%) and the specificity was 100%. A total of the 855 HCWs were included in the surveillance and 1764 swabs were performed, with an annual cumulative incidence of 2.3% (CI 95%: 1,2%-3,4%), and 20 positive asymptomatic cases were detected.


The screening of asymptomatic HCWs during the pandemic contributed to reduce the risk of outbreaks in hospital settings. Moreover, an interdisciplinary team framework applicable to other health problems was generated.

Keywords : COVID-19; RT-PCR; Screening; Asymptomatic; Healthcare Workers.

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