Evaluation of a digital, rapid self-sampling strategy for individuals with suspected COVID‑19 infection in South Africa and India
With over 35 million cases and 1 million deaths worldwide, COVID‑19 is the most infectious pandemic to date. India has the second highest number of cases (over 5 million) with 80,000 deaths while South Africa has 651,521 cases and 15,641 deaths. Many individuals infected with the virus are unaware of their serostatus; they can easily transmit the virus to others unknowingly. Diagnostic solutions that can expand the capacity of the healthcare system, save healthcare worker time and resources, are urgently needed. We propose a strategy using rapid antigen tests, with easy to use, self-sampled nasal swabs and a digital application/platform to provide up-to-date, evidence-based information on the virus, guidance on performing the test and collecting the sample, and linkages to care according to health guidelines. We will test our strategy for its speed, and efficiency in triaging populations to care or prevention in 550 patients in both Manipal, India and in Cape Town, South Africa (1100 participants total), and compare it to the conventional COVID‑19 testing strategy in 1100 participants. This innovative, digital strategy will be open access and will impact pandemic control globally. The strategy will help people to know their COVID‑19 status, detect new infections, and decrease the burden on the overwhelmed healthcare system.