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'Pooled testing' for COVID-19 holds promise, pitfalls

Pooled testing involves combining patient samples in batches instead of running them individually.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Friday, May 15, 2020 file photo, people line up for coronavirus testing at a large factory in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province. In June 2020, China reported using batch testing as part of a recent campaign to test all 11 million residents of Wuhan, the city where the virus first emerged late in late 2019. (Chinatopix Via AP)

WASHINGTON — U.S. health officials are pushing a new approach to boost U.S. screening for the coronavirus. 

Pooled testing involves combining patient samples in batches instead of running them individually. 

The potential benefits include stretching laboratory supplies, reducing costs and expanding testing to millions more Americans. 

Chinese officials reported using pooled testing to help screen 11 million people in Wuhan. But U.S. officials have not yet cleared the approach. 

The potential downsides include lower accuracy and longer waits to deliver results to some people. 

Still, health officials say the approach could help with mass screenings.

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