At-home ‘swab and scan’ kits identify 44 COVID-19 cases in King County

Apr 17, 2020, 4:23 PM
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

In the first 18 days of testing, the Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network (SCAN) said it has identified 44 positive cases of coronavirus out of the 4,092 total samples (1.6%) collected across King County.

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SCAN is a partnership between Public Health — Seattle & King County and the Seattle Flu Study that includes researchers from UW Medicine, Fred Hutchinson, Seattle Children’s, and the Institute for Disease Modeling.

The study collected nasal swabs from over 4,000 people who were reporting COVID-like symptoms and those who were not. Dr. Jay Shendure, Scientific Director of the Brotman Baty Institute and SCAN’s lead partner, said in a virtual news conference on Friday, SCAN is the first study of its kind to use ‘swab and scan’ nasal test kits without leaving home. He said about three-quarters of the study participants are people who had not sought medical care.

Based on participation and the county census, modeling estimates the prevalence of COVID-19 in King County for the 18-day period is between 5 and 75 out of 10,000 people (0.05% to 0.75%), with the best estimates of 24 per 10,000 people or 0.24%.

SCAN said positive cases were identified in all parts of the county. It’s hoping for increased participation from residents of South and East King County, people of color, and people under 18 years old and older than 65.

Researchers said there’s evidence that prevalence has peaked and is starting to decline. Transmissions don’t appear to be growing exponentially anymore. In fact, sampling in the first six days showed community prevalence at around 0.32%. That number dropped to 0.07% in the last six days of sampling.

While the numbers are positive, SCAN warns that a conclusion is still uncertain and not statistically significant given the sample size.

“We’re working quickly to make kits available to even more people over the coming weeks,” Shendure said, “And to get data into the hands of the public officials who need it.”

Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health — Seattle & King County, said that there is a great demand for the SCAN tests — more than supplies allow, but please keep trying if you’re interested.

“What began as a small, local pilot program has become a model from which we hope other cities and states will benefit,” said Dr. Paul Ramsey, CEO of UW Medicine. “It’s a powerful testament to the accomplishments of our region’s world-class health and research community.”

Read more from SCAN.

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At-home ‘swab and scan’ kits identify 44 COVID-19 cases in King County