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Effectiveness of mass testing for control of COVID-19: a systematic review protocol
  1. Luís Carlos Lopes-Júnior1,
  2. Emiliana Bomfim2,
  3. Denise Sayuri Calheiros da Silveira3,
  4. Raphael Manhães Pessanha1,
  5. Sara Isabel Pimentel Carvalho Schuab1,
  6. Regina Aparecida Garcia Lima4
  1. 1 Nursing Department, Health Sciences Center, Universidade Federal do Espirito Santo (UFES), Vitoria, Brazil
  2. 2 Department of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
  3. 3 Department of Biochemistry and Immunology, Ribeirão Preto Medical School at University of São Paulo, Ribeirao Preto, Brazil
  4. 4 Maternal-Infant and Public Health Nursing Department, University of São Paulo at Ribeirão Preto College of Nursing, Ribeirao Preto, Brazil
  1. Correspondence to Dr Luís Carlos Lopes-Júnior;{at}


Introduction Since March 2020, when the COVID-19 outbreak has been deemed a pandemic by the WHO, the SARS-CoV-2 spreading has been the focus of attention of scientists, authorities, public health agencies and communities around the world. One of the great concerns and challenges, mainly in low-income and middle-income countries, is the identification and monitoring of COVID-19 cases. The large-scale availability of testing is a fundamental aspect of COVID-19 control, but it is currently the biggest challenge faced by many countries around the world. We aimed to synthesise and critically evaluate the scientific evidence on the influence of the testing capacity for symptomatic individuals in the control of COVID-19.

Methods and analysis A systematic review will be conducted in eight databases, such as Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online, ISI-of-Knowledge, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Embase, SCOPUS, Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences Literature, PsycINFO and Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure, from inception to 30 July 2020. No restriction regarding the language, publication date or setting will be employed. Primary outcomes will include the sensitivity as well as the specificity of the tests for COVID-19. Study selection will follow the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses checklist. Methodological assessment of the studies will be evaluated by the Cochrane Risk-of-Bias tool for randomised controlled trials, the MINORS for non-randomised studies and the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale for cohort or case–control studies. Findings will be structured according to the test type and target population characteristics and focused on the primary outcomes (sensitivity and specificity). Moreover, if sufficient data are available, a meta-analysis will be performed. Pooled standardised mean differences and 95% CIs will be calculated. Heterogeneity between the studies will be determined by I2 statistics. Subgroup analyses will also be conducted. Publication bias will be assessed with funnel plots and Egger’s test. Heterogeneity will be explored by random effects analysis.

Ethics and dissemination Ethical approval is not required. The results will be disseminated widely via peer-reviewed publication and presentations at conferences related to this field.

PROSPERO registration number CRD42020182724.

  • infectious diseases
  • public health
  • public health
  • health policy
  • health services administration & management
  • epidemiology

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

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  • Contributors LCL-J conceptualised and designed the protocol, drafted the initial manuscript and reviewed the manuscript. All authors defined the concepts and search items, data extraction process as well as methodological appraisal of the studies. EB, DSCdS, RMP, SIPCS and LCL-J planned the data extraction and statistical analysis. RAGL, EB, DSCdS and LCL-J provided critical insights. All authors have approved and contributed to the final written manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Disclaimer The views of the authors do not necessarily reflect those of the NHS, NIHR or the Department of Health.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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