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Optimal test-assisted quarantine strategies for COVID-19

Cite this dataset

Peng, Bo et al. (2021). Optimal test-assisted quarantine strategies for COVID-19 [Dataset]. Dryad.


Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of SARS-CoV-2 testing on shortening the duration of quarantines for COVID-19 and to identify the most effective choices of testing schedules.

Design: We performed extensive simulations to evaluate the performance of quarantine strategies when one or more SARS-CoV-2 tests were administered during the quarantine. Simulations were based on statistical models for the transmissibility and viral loads of SARS-CoV-2 infections and the sensitivities of available testing methods. Sensitivity analyses were performed to evaluate the impact of perturbations in model assumptions on the outcomes of optimal strategies.

Results: We found that SARS-CoV-2 testing can effectively reduce the length of a quarantine without compromising safety. A single RT-PCR test performed before the end of quarantine can reduce quarantine duration to 10 days. Two tests can reduce the duration to 8 days, and three highly sensitive RT-PCR tests can justify a 6-day quarantine. More strategic testing schedules and longer quarantines are needed if tests are administered with less sensitive RT-PCR tests or antigen tests. Shorter quarantines can be utilized for applications that tolerate a residual post-quarantine transmission risk comparable to a 10-day quarantine.

Conclusions: Testing could substantially reduce the length of isolation, reducing the physical and mental stress caused by lengthy quarantines. With increasing capacity and lowered costs of SARS-CoV-2 tests, test-assisted quarantines could be safer and more cost-effective than 14-day quarantines and warrant more widespread use.


The dataset consists of PQTR (post-quarantine transmission risk) and observed test sensitivity for test-assisted quarantine strategies with different duration and test strategies, under the assumption of either mixed and simultaneous onset of infection. PQTR is calculated as the occurrence of failures (infecting others after released from quarantine) of at least 500K (mostly 1M) replicate simulations using the simulation model described in the manuscript.

Usage notes

The dataset is in EXCEL format. Users can open it and search for interested quarantine strategies using the filter feature of EXCEL.