Feds turn to new testing strategy as infections surge

The method, called pooled testing, signals a paradigm shift. Instead of carefully rationing tests to only those with symptoms, pooled testing would enable frequent surveillance of asymptomatic people. Mass identification of coronavirus infections could hasten the reopening of schools, offices and factories.

“We’re in intensive discussions about how we’re going to do it,” Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease expert, said in an interview. “We hope to get this off the ground as soon as possible.”…

Health officials in China, Germany, Israel and Thailand have all deployed pooled testing for the coronavirus. In Nebraska, a state scientist found a loophole that allowed him to circumvent federal prohibitions on the method. In Memphis, Dr. Manoj Jain, an infectious disease expert familiar with low-cost methods in India, has forged an ambitious plan to use the strategy.

“I’m just wondering why the federal government does not mandate now that this be done to preserve the testing capacity,” said Dr. Jain, of Emory University. “We really haven’t learned from our counterparts in Europe and Asia.”