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Testing for the coronavirus on those who have died could supplement other forms of surveillance and serve as a possible early outbreak warning sign, say University of Michigan researchers.
“This kind of surveillance could be really useful and serve as an inexpensive testing method, especially in urban areas,” said Andrew Brouwer, an assistant research scientist at U-M’s School of Public Health.
Brouwer and his colleagues in epidemiology worked with Carl Schmidt, U-M professor of forensic pathology and the chief medical examiner for Wayne and Monroe counties to test more than 1,000 people who had died to see if they had SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen that causes COVID-19.
Normally, medical examiners investigate unexpected deaths and deaths not explained by natural causes. Schmidt led the study and asked the U-M epidemiologists to look at the data to find any potential patterns that could be of significance.
All of the deceased had been assessed for their potential risk for COVID-19 through a checklist that included questions related to symptoms and potential exposure to the coronavirus. Those who were likely to have had coronavirus were tested for the virus, and an additional random sample of decedents was also tested.
The U-M epidemiologists compared the characteristics …
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