Testing. Testing. Testing. Widespread testing could help us get out of lockdown, regain old freedoms and live with the virus. From March everyone should be able to test themselves at home with so-called living room tests. In other words, self-tests that tell you within 15 minutes whether you have been infected with the coronavirus or not.
Are these lay tests the way out of the pandemic?
Up to now, only trained personnel are allowed to carry out corona tests. That should change now. Even laypeople can carry out self-tests. Various products are about to be released in Europe. With the self-tests it is important that the user knows exactly what to do.
One has to work carefully when taking samples. And then you have to know exactly what to do with the result. That means, if it’s positive, I might get angry at first. But I need to know when I’m positive that I’m contagious. And you should also, but this is a legal requirement and is regulated differently in each country, to confirm the test.
In the self-tests, the potential viral load is determined by means of a nasal swab or spit test. The smear can be done in the front part of the nose. The sample is then added to the buffer solution supplied, shaken well a few times according to the instructions for use and then dripped onto a test strip.
The principle works similarly to a pregnancy test. After around 15 minutes the result is there: one line means negative, two lines positive.
In Switzerland, it is still unclear when laypeople can also carry out the tests themselves. In Germany, the first self-tests will go on sale from March, and in Austria tests for the home population will even be available free of charge – five pieces a month per person. But because of the mutations, proactive and close testing is important. Testing five times a month is not enough.
The problem with Sars-CoV-2 is that people who don’t have symptoms are already contagious. This is why this pandemic is so difficult to fight. To contain this pandemic, I have to fish out the people who don’t have symptoms. Detect them, so to speak, and put them in quarantine so that they can no longer spread the viruses. And that’s why tests in this asymptomatic phase are so important so that the infected can be recognized there.
The more often you test yourself, the more confident you can feel about a negative test result. Because basically: a negative test result is not a free pass to walk around without a mask and distance.
The n the test becomes negative, even though you are actually already infected.
The self-tests alone are not a game changer.
You should have a test concept where you say: Wherever people meet – i.e. in front of the cinema, in front of the hospital, in front of the old people’s home, in front of the office building – I do a test and only let those who tested negative come into the house. If you do this regularly over the week, then you have a certain tightness. And then the individual can test himself or herself for the next certainty if, for example, he has mild symptoms.
A combination of self-tests at home and quick tests on site enables the early detection of infections and prevents long chains of infection.
The self-tests alone will not end the pandemic, but they are an important component in combating it and, in conjunction with other factors such as vaccination, could enable long-term easing and keep the number of cases low.