Optimization of Screening Strategies for COVID-19 : Scoping Review

Yuanhua LIU, Yun YIN, Michael P. WARD, Ke LI, Yue CHEN, Mengwei DUAN, Paulina P Y WONG, Jie HONG, Jiaqi HUANG, Jin SHI, Xuan ZHOU, Xi CHEN, Jiayao XU, Rui YUAN, Lingcai KONG, Zhijie ZHANG

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


COVID-19 screening is an effective nonpharmaceutical intervention for identifying infected individuals and interrupting viral transmission. However, questions have been raised regarding its effectiveness in controlling the spread of novel variants and its high socioeconomic costs. Therefore, the optimization of COVID-19 screening strategies has attracted great attention.

This review aims to summarize the evidence and provide a reference basis for the optimization of screening strategies for the prevention and control of COVID-19.

We applied a methodological framework for scoping reviews and the PRISMA-ScR (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses Extension for Scoping Reviews) checklist. We conducted a scoping review of the present publications on the optimization of COVID-19 screening strategies. We searched the PubMed, Web of Science, and Elsevier ScienceDirect databases for publications up to December 31, 2022. English publications related to screening and testing strategies for COVID-19 were included. A data-charting form, jointly developed by 2 reviewers, was used for data extraction according to the optimization directions of the screening strategies.

A total of 2770 unique publications were retrieved from the database search, and 95 abstracts were retained for full-text review. There were 62 studies included in the final review. We summarized the results in 4 major aspects: the screening population (people at various risk conditions such as different regions and occupations; 12/62, 19%), the timing of screening (when the target population is tested before travel or during an outbreak; 12/62, 19%), the frequency of screening (appropriate frequencies for outbreak prevention, outbreak response, or community transmission control; 6/62, 10%), and the screening and detection procedure (the choice of individual or pooled detection and optimization of the pooling approach; 35/62, 56%).

This review reveals gaps in the optimization of COVID-19 screening strategies and suggests that a number of factors such as prevalence, screening accuracy, effective allocation of resources, and feasibility of strategies should be carefully considered in the development of future screening strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere44349
JournalJMIR Public Health and Surveillance
Issue number1
Early online date27 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
©Yuanhua Liu, Yun Yin, Michael P Ward, Ke Li, Yue Chen, Mengwei Duan, Paulina P Y Wong, Jie Hong,


  • COVID-19
  • screening strategy
  • optimization
  • polymerase chain reaction test
  • antigen test


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