Self-tests will be available in Swiss pharmacies from April 7th. The various test options at a glance.
PCR-Test: The test is usually done with a nasopharynx swab or a throat swab. However, PCR tests using saliva collection are also possible. PCR tests have to be evaluated in the laboratory – normally the result is therefore only available after 24 to 48 hours. The smears are carried out by trained staff in medical practices, hospitals or test centers. In some cases, pharmacies also carry out PCR tests.
Rapid antigen test: As the name suggests, this test variant delivers the result quickly: within 15 to 20 minutes. In contrast to the PCR test, no analysis in the laboratory is necessary. The test is carried out using a nasopharynx swab. Rapid antigen tests via saliva collection are not possible. Rapid antigen test results are less reliable than PCR test results. A positive result of a rapid test is therefore often checked with a PCR test. The smears are carried out by trained staff in medical practices, hospitals, test centers or pharmacies.
Antigen self-test: Anyone can do these tests at home. They will be available in Swiss pharmacies from April 7th. According to the pharmacy association Pharmasuisse, there could be bottlenecks in the initial phase. Each person can receive five self-tests per month free of charge. The self-tests are carried out using a nasal swab. However, the test sticks do not have to be inserted as deeply as in a PCR test. A result is available within a few minutes. As with rapid antigen tests, the results of self-tests are less reliable than those of PCR tests. A positive test result must therefore be checked using a PCR test.
Serologischer Test: Serological tests can detect antibodies against the coronavirus in the blood. Antibodies indicate that the person tested has had contact with the virus. However, according to the Federal Office of Public Health (BAG), it is possible that such tests show antibodies even though none are present. Tested people could feel like they were in a false sense of security. The BAG therefore does not currently recommend such tests.
Sources: BAG and SRF research