Pilot testing study run by Harvard professor hopes to clear path to safer return to work

BOSTON — As more local businesses look to bring employees back into the workplace, safety is a top concern. Harvard Assistant Professor of Epidemiology Dr. Michael Mina is overseeing a pilot program that he helps will help reduce some of those worries.

With the help of Citibank, he’s studying how the use of rapid at-home antigen tests for Covid could prevent outbreaks, by catching positive cases sooner.

“The last thing we want to do is have to shut anything down. So this is actually a pretty small price to be able to just keep plowing through even if outbreaks are going,” Dr. Mina said.

Citibank Chicago branch manager Kareem Trice is one of the pilot program’s volunteers, testing at home with the guidance of an app. He says he was excited to participate.

“The first thing I did when it happened was call my mom up and tell her about how cool it was that we were going to be able to test three days a week to ensure that we know our status before we step into the branch,” Trice said.

Trice tells Boston 25 News, in the first few weeks of the voluntary program, they’ve already identified several employees who were asymptomatic but tested positive.

“Those individuals were now able to know that they know their status and were able to alert their family members and didn’t have to come into work and potentially expose clients or team members to it,” Trice said. Dr. Mina has been pushing for these tests since the summer as a means to stop the spread.

He says he hoping that his information from this study along with the this week’s FDA approval for sale of similar antigen tests without a prescription will increase the availability of these tests and start to turn the tide.

Kareem Trice says from what he’s seen, the program could help get more people back to work soon.

“If people were to scale this to other companies, it would not only provide the actual safety, but it also would make people feel more secure when they come to work,” Trice said.

For more of our reporting on the use of Covid home tests, click here.

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