Questionnaire-based vs universal PCR testing for SARS-CoV-2 in women admitted for delivery

Elad Mei-Dan, Abheha Satkunaratnam, Tal Cahan, Marian Leung, Kevin Katz, Amir Aviram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: It has been suggested that women admitted for delivery should have universal PCR testing for SARS-CoV-2. Yet, the considerable difference in the incidence of COVID-19 between different geographic regions may affect screening strategies. Therefore, we aimed to compare questionnaire-based testing versus universal PCR testing for SARS-CoV-2 in women admitted for delivery. Methods: A prospective cohort study of women admitted for delivery at a single center during a four-week period (April 22-May 25, 2020). All women completed a questionnaire about COVID-19 signs, symptoms, or risk factors, and a nasopharyngeal swab for PCR for SARS-CoV-2. Women who were flagged as suspected COVID-19 by the questionnaire (questionnaire-positive) were compared with women who were not flagged by the questionnaire (questionnaire-negative). Results: Overall, 446 women were eligible for analysis, of which 54 (12.1%) were questionnaire-positive. PCR swab detected SARS-CoV-2 in four (0.9%) women: 3 of 392 (0.8%) in the questionnaire-negative group, and 1 of 54 (1.9%) in the questionnaire-positive group (P =.43), yielding a number needed to screen of 92 (95% CI 62-177). In 96% of the cases, the PCR results were obtained only in the postpartum period. No positive PCR results were obtained from neonatal testing for SARS-CoV-2. The sensitivity of the questionnaire was 75.0%, and the negative predictive value was 99.7%. Conclusions: Although the rate of positive PCR results was not significantly different between the groups, the number needed to screen is considerably high. The use of questionnaire-based PCR testing in areas with low incidence of COVID-19 allows for a reasonable allocation of resources and is easy to implement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-103
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • labor and delivery
  • pregnancy
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • screening
  • swab


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