This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

August 19, 2020

Jumping into Pool Testing---One Solution

Right now, in the United States and elsewhere in the world, there is a significant shortage of COVID-19 PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) tests for the presence of the infection. The concept of "Pool Testing" can conceivably allow us to test more people using much less of the reagent, one of the key materials required that happens to be in short supply. Pool testing conserves those scarce commodities by using a fraction of the chemicals than it would have taken to test those numbers of people the conventional way.

How Pool Testing Works
Pool Testing combines samples from multiple people, then uses only one test on the whole group. If the combined sample is negative, the authorities can rule out the presence of infection in that entire group. However, if the result is positive, the pool is divided into smaller samples to identify the infected person or people.

The Advantages of Pooling
Since testing materials are in short supply, pool testing can be more cost-effective, and it can reduce the processing burden on laboratories. Moreover, it can eliminate large numbers of people who are not infected, and who would otherwise have taken an individual test. For large groups, like students or employees, it can act as a surveillance system for asymptomatic people. Finally, pool testing can also speed up the testing process because it requires significantly less processing time than would have been required for all of the individual tests together.

Tremendous Testing Capacity Immediately
According to Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, "Pooling would give us the capacity to go from a half a million tests a day to potentially five million individuals tested per day." By widely implementing pooling, the US could scale up its testing capacity very quickly. But this method is not without its challenges.

Pool Testing is not suggested for Everywhere
If states have high rates of positive infections, like over 15 or 20 percent, as we have in states like Texas or Arizona, pool testing will probably not be useful; all of the batches will be positive. Additionally, if the pool is too large, sometimes positive cases will show up as negative. However, in states like New Jersey or New Hampshire, pooling makes a lot of sense.

Number of People in the Pool will Vary
Depending on which machine is used for the test, and who the researchers are, the number of people's samples grouped together will vary. Some scientists believe that up to 10 samples could be pooled, while others recommend single digits up to 50, One study from Israel (not yet peer-reviewed) found that the virus was detectable in a pool as large as 64. Most researchers believe pool testing is the right approach in locations with low rates of COVID-19, where the large majority of tests will be negative; in states with a high prevalence of cases, too many of the pools will come back positive for this method to make sense.

Testing is Just One Element
Without knowing who is infected through widespread testing, it will be impossible to contain the disease. Researchers agree that containment is our best defense in controlling the spread of COVID-19. And we need to be testing everyone, including those without any symptoms. Furthermore, containing the spread of the virus requires not only testing for infection, but also contact tracing for those likely to have been exposed, and of course, isolation for everyone who is infected.

The Future of Testing
Testing is a major element in controlling the disease, perhaps the most important. I see the future as a combination of the paper testing covered in the previous Herman Trend Alert and in states where it makes sense, pool testing. Once we have contained the virus, we can move to a regimen of pool testing for everyone, until we have a vaccine.

Next Week: COVID-19 Vaccine Update
Besides the vaccines moving into Phase III trials, there is a revolutionary vaccine that has the potential for being thousands of times more effective with fewer side effects. Tune in next week, when I will tell you all about it.

Special thanks to and MSNBC for their coverage of this valuable tool in our battle against COVID-19.

© Copyright 1998- by The Herman Group, Inc. -- reproduction for publication is encouraged, with the following attribution: From "The Herman Trend Alert," by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist. 336-210-3548 or To sign up, visit The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group, Inc."

Our author Joyce gets quoted in TIME Magazine and other national media on a regular basis. You can, too! Sign up for You will be found by the news media and in Google search: 1. Through your personal search-engine-optimized press room by 39 topics you choose; 2. By news releases pushed out 10 ways including Google News; 3. Be found in the 2020 printed Yearbook of Experts, Authorities & Spokespersons. Save 15% when you register by October 31st @

The Association of Professional Futurists proudly presents its annual online learning experiences on Full Spectrum Futures. Network with leading futurists from all over the world. And best of all, it's free to attend, though contributions are encouraged to help defray costs. For more information, visit here.

Excellent translation services from English, French, or German into Spanish. Especially well-versed in medicine/pharma and automobile industries. 5-year Bachelor Degree in Translation. Also editing and proofreading of all kinds of Spanish language documents. Flexible rates, depending on number of words, degree of difficulty/technicality, and turnaround. For an instant quote email Mariana Campora Lesti at or contact her on SKYPE at marianacampora.

To read this Herman Trend Alert on the web:

Herman Trend Alerts are produced by the Herman Group, strategic business futurists, Certified Management Consultants, authors, and professional speakers.

New subscribers are always welcome. There is no charge for this public service. The Herman Trend Alert is read by over 30,000 people in 90 countries, including other websites and printed periodicals. Click here to sign up for the Herman Trend Alert.

Do you enjoy receiving this weekly e-mail update? Contact us about our co-branded Herman Trend Alert service.

Subscribe or Unsubscribe to weekly Herman Trend Alert
View this week's Herman Trend Alert
Archived Weekly Herman Trend Alerts


[ Home About Products Resources Media ]


7112 Viridian Lane
Austin, TX 78739
Voice: 336-210-3548
Toll Free in US & Canada: 800-227-3566

  © The Herman Group. All rights reserved.

Web site design by WebEditor Design Services, Inc.