USC Schaeffer Center and Keck School of Medicine of USC’s Department of Preventive Medicine are collaborating with the Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on a study to examine the use of coronavirus rapid antigen tests among first responders and school-aged children. Los Angeles is one of the first metropolitan areas in the country to launch a large-scale pilot study of rapid tests in both symptomatic and asymptomatic participants.
The study aims to determine the best methods for using these inexpensive tests to reopen schools and businesses. Rapid tests have the potential to quickly alert people who are contagious and need to isolate, thereby stopping the chain of transmission.
Rapid antigen tests are commonly used in the diagnosis of respiratory pathogens, including influenza viruses. The FDA has granted emergency use authorization for antigen tests that can identify SARS-CoV-2. Antigen tests are relatively inexpensive and can be used on-site. The rapid antigen tests used for this study require a shallow nasal swab, with results are ready in approximately 15 minutes.
Researchers will evaluate different strategies for testing large groups of students and develop guidance for implementing rapid antigen testing in schools. Focus groups and interviews will be conducted with school administrators, teachers, parents, and students to understand the implementation challenges. In some cases, the researchers will co-create reopening plans that utilize rapid antigen tests with schools and then partner to implement and evaluate these plans, providing all necessary support, such as initial antigen tests and testing staff.
October 2020 | Researchers evaluate the use of rapid antigen tests in front-line workers, such as firefighters and essential workers
November 2020 | Researchers evaluate the use of rapid antigen tests in children and asymptomic individuals at a L.A. city walk-up testing site.
December 2020- January 2021 | Focus groups and interviews conducted with school administrators, teachers, parents and students. Researchers partner with select schools to start developing re-opening plans using rapid antigen tests.
January 2021 | Insights from focus groups and interviews are analyzed. These findings are used to inform real-world guidance for the use of rapid antigen tests. Pilot schools start rapid antigen testing.
February 2021 | School pilot of rapid antigen testing continues.
March 2021 | School pilots completed. Study teams support schools’ plans for using rapid antigen tests as appropriate. Additional schools begin implementing rapid antigen testing strategies based on initial pilots.
Support for This Study
The project is a public-private partnership led by the University of Southern California, the Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and the L.A. County Department of Public Health. Support for the project was provided by the City of Los Angeles, USC, The Rockefeller Foundation, Hilton Foundation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Curative.