SARS-CoV-2 Epidemic in the Israeli Defense Force-Lessons Learned From Our rt-PCR Screening Policy

Adili Tsur, Arik Furer, Eva Avramovich, Erez Karp, Gilad Twig, Tarif Bader, Miki Almakias, Noam Fink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: During the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, multiple preventative measures were used to prevent the virus from spreading in the population. The Israeli defense force deployed further means to contain the disease, including putting units in quarantine, physical distancing and using masks, gowns and disinfectants when in contact with suspected patients. METHODS: We used reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (rt-PCR) tests to screen for patients among asymptomatic soldiers within units participating in civilian aid or in close contact with known patients, using personal protective equipment. Positive results were repeated and followed with serological testing to verify the nature of results. RESULTS: Between April and May 2020, we screened a total of 1,453 soldiers in 13 different units. We found 11 false positive results, leading to unnecessary measures until resolution, and three true positive results (0.2%). All true positive results had unreported symptoms concomitant with SARS-CoV-2 disease. These results led to the resolution of this screening policy. CONCLUSION: Screening asymptomatic army personnel in this setting with rt-PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 is not warranted and leads to unnecessary false positive results. Efforts should be directed at identifying symptomatic patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e65-e68
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 4 Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes


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