On the Test Accuracy and Effective Control of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Case Study in Singapore

25 Pages Posted: 1 Dec 2021

See all articles by Guang Cheng

Guang Cheng

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Institute of Operations Research and Analytics

Sarah Yini Gao

Singapore Management University - Lee Kong Chian School of Business

Yancheng Yuan

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Chenxiao Zhang

Singapore Management University

Zhichao Zheng

Singapore Management University - Lee Kong Chian School of Business

Date Written: May 4, 2021

Abstract

This study examines the impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) test accuracy (i.e., sensitivity and specificity) on the progression of the pandemic under two scenarios of limited and unlimited test capacity. We extend the classic susceptible-exposed-infectious-recovered model to incorporate test accuracy and compare the progression of the pandemic under various sensitivities and specificities. We find that high-sensitivity tests effectively reduce the total number of infections only with sufficient testing capacity. Nevertheless, with limited test capacity and a relatively high cross-infection rate, the total number of infected cases may increase when sensitivity is above a certain threshold. Despite the potential for higher-sensitivity tests to identify more infected individuals, more false-positive cases occur, which wastes limited testing capacity, slowing down the detection of infected cases. Our findings reveal that improving test sensitivity alone does not always lead to effective pandemic control, indicating that policymakers should balance the trade-off between high sensitivity and high false-positive rates when designing containment measures for infectious diseases such as COVID-19, particularly when navigating limited test capacity.

Note:
Funding: None to declare.

Declaration of Interests: None to declare.

Keywords: COVID-19; Test Sensitivity; Test Specificity; Infections

Suggested Citation

Cheng, Guang and Gao, Sarah Yini and Yuan, Yancheng and Zhang, Chenxiao and Zheng, Zhichao, On the Test Accuracy and Effective Control of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Case Study in Singapore (May 4, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3955828 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3955828

Guang Cheng

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Institute of Operations Research and Analytics ( email )

Innovation 4.0, #04-01, 3 Research Link
117602
Singapore

Sarah Yini Gao

Singapore Management University - Lee Kong Chian School of Business ( email )

469 Bukit Timah Road
Singapore 912409
Singapore

Yancheng Yuan

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University ( email )

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.polyu.edu.hk/ama/people/detail/1736/

Chenxiao Zhang

Singapore Management University ( email )

Li Ka Shing Library
70 Stamford Road
Singapore 178901, 178899
Singapore

Zhichao Zheng (Contact Author)

Singapore Management University - Lee Kong Chian School of Business ( email )

50 Stamford Road
Singapore, 178899
Singapore
(65) 6808 5474 (Phone)
(65) 6828 0777 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.zhengzhichao.com

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