Document de travail

Group testing against Covid-19

Christian Gollier et Olivier Gossner


It is well-known that group testing is an efficient strategy to screen for the presence of a virus. It consists of pooling n individual samples with a single test using RT-PCR. If no individual in the group is infected, the group test is negative. Thus, a single test may reveal this crucial information. We show how group testing can be optimised in three applications to multiply the power of tests against Covid-19: Estimating virus prevalence to measure the evolution of the pandemic, bringing negative groups back to work to exit the current lockdown, and testing for individual infectious status to treat sick people. For an infection level around 2%, group testing could multiply the power of testing by a factor of 20. The implementation of this strategy in the short run requires limited investments and could bypass the current immense shortage of testing capacity.


Christian Gollier et Olivier Gossner, Group Testing against Covid-19, mars 2020.


Christian Gollier et Olivier Gossner, « Group testing against Covid-19 », Covid Economics, n° 1, n° 2, avril 2020, p. 32–42.

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Covid Economics, n° 1, n° 2, avril 2020, p. 32–42