While looking at the virus testing shortage through the lens of software, it seemed like there must be a better solution than brute force testing everyone individually. I realized that with some small tweaks to our testing procedure we may be able to screen vastly more people with the same supply of tests. South Korea's impressive ability to flatten the curve was because of widespread testing so I knew that's where I should focus my efforts.

What it does

In a nutshell, its a simple procedure change of batching swabs together so multiple people can share the same test. If the test is negative, everyone in the batch is cleared simultaneously and many tests are saved. If the test is positive, then just the people in that (hopefully) significantly smaller batch are then tested individually. The algorithm depends on averaging costs and assuming that most people in a test will be negative. If most people in a group are sick you actually use more tests, but on average only a few people in a group will test positive so a huge amount of testing can be saved. People that are obviously sick should still be tested directly. The main application of this method is regular widespread screening to find the asymptomatic carriers like hospital staff, schools, airplanes, offices, etc..

How I built it

I'm learning React so all the animations were built with React, Javascript, and CSS.

Challenges I ran into

Trying to find out how many swabs can potentially be combined and still reliably trigger the viral threshold needed for detection by a test. I could not find an answer so a lab will likely just have to start with a batch of 2 people and work up from there experimentally.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

The simplicity of the idea. No new technology needs to be developed, it's just a simple procedural change that can be implemented immediately and maybe make a dent in this disaster.

What I learned

Asynchronous delay timers in javascript are a callback nightmare for animations.

What's next for Boost Testing Capacity Tenfold Using Batch Testing

If a lab can confirm batch testing in even as little as a group of 2 is possible, I'll get some coding friends together to start brainstorming the most efficient algorithms asap. Please message me with any ideas or if you want to help!

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posted an update

A trial of this method may be about to start at a chain of hospitals in Baltimore as a direct result of this hackathon!

After seeing Dr. Desai (who is the Chief Medical Officer at on Rachel Maddow's show, I sent this hackathon project to him and he ended up featuring it on his YouTube Channel! He took my initial hackathon video, narrated it, and explained everything much better than I could have. I highly recommend watching his video as an upgraded replacement of my submission (and all his other videos which concisely explain the cutting edge of Covid-19 research):

On top of that, he connected me with the Chief Innovation Officer at LifeBridge Health. They control a large network of Baltimore hospitals and are now looking into starting a trial of batch testing with the primary purpose of daily screenings of their medical staff. I'll post updates if they (or any other labs) begin trials.

Many thanks to Dr. Desai,, and LifeBridge Health for looking into this idea! And again to Setareh and Andre in the Devpost comments, I've been forwarding the research you send me to the appropriate people.

Also, here is a preliminary research paper of the ongoing trial in Israel:

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posted an update

A major update, this technique has now been proven to work by Goethe University in Germany! I think a similar method may work for the antibody blood test as well.

In addition, I have found some amazing existing research on algorithms that can be used to optimize the batch sizes immediately:

As the concept is now proven, the next challenge is widespread implementation, logistics, and awareness that this method even exists. I have reached out to the Goethe University team and some local doctors to see if I can help speed up the adoption of this technique. Please share the above research with anyone that can help put it into practice, every day we aren't using this is costing lives!

The next phase of this project is likely helping tackle the logistics of forming and managing the batches. I believe a devpost team can help speed up adoption with an app (I'm looking for teammates so please message me if interested). We need an app to help the medical staff that are collecting the samples form batches, and an app for labs to track the batches and manage which tests need to be rerun.

That's it for now, I'll post another update once I've heard back from the emails I sent and can confirm that making an app is the best next move. And special thanks to Setareh for the help!

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