Cycle Threshold to Test Positivity in COVID-19 for Return to Work Clearance in Health Care Workers

Link to article at PubMed

J Occup Environ Med. 2020 Aug 13. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001996. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVE: To ascertain whether reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) cycle amplifications until detection, the cycle threshold (Ct), could help inform return to work (RTW) strategies for health care workers (HCWs) recovering from COVID-19 infection.

METHODS: Sequential Ct data from COVID-19 nasal pharyngeal (NP) RT-PCR testing in all COVID-19 positive HCWs at a single institution. Analysis of Ct in relation to time until negative testing for RTW clearance.

RESULTS: Data for 12 employees showed that time elapsed until RT-PCR test-based RTW clearance ranged from 7 to 57 days (median, 34.5 days). Lower initial Ct correlated with the total time elapsed until clearance (r = -0.80; p= 0.002).

CONCLUSION: Considering the RT-PCR Ct, which correlates with the estimated viral load, may help inform RTW planning and decision making beyond solely relying on dichotomized positive/negative results.

PMID:32804748 | DOI:10.1097/JOM.0000000000001996

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