A million unused corona tests: keep them or test more actively?

A million corona tests are still on the shelf in Dutch labs and with suppliers. The tests were intended to test everyone with complaints daily on June 1, but there have been much less people reported than what was assumed.

The maximum capacity of 30,000 per day has never been reached. Of the 1.5 million available tests, about half a million have now been used.

More active testing policy?

Several experts call the existence of a large inventory of unused tests a good time to start a more active testing policy.

“There are actually two groups that you just want to actively test. The first is the group of people where the consequences of infection are greatest, such as at slaughterhouses or nursing homes,” says Frits Rosendaal, professor and head of clinical epidemiology at the LUMC.

“The other group is the one where the risk of the virus is greatest. This applies, for example, to the contacts of people who come into the picture through source and contact research. After all, you know that the chance that they have the virus is greater than with random other people.”

Contacts of an infected person do not automatically receive such a test. For them, too, testing is only possible with complaints. However, housemates and close contacts must stay at home for a fortnight.

Testing after sewage measurement

“You can also think of testing travelers,” says Rosendaal. “They come here with planes and are spreading again, and they may have been in regions with a lot of contamination, but you don’t know where they are going either.”

Hans Heesterbeek, professor of theoretical epidemiology at Utrecht University sees even more applications. “You can also routinely test in places where many people come together and where there is a lot of interaction. You can also test people who have many contacts with other people because of their work or activities.”

He also mentions as an option to test humans on a large scale in areas where samples from sewage or wastewater indicate elevated concentrations of the corona virus. Heesterbeek argues in favor of thoroughly investigating active testing first. “Does active testing contribute significantly to the effectiveness of current policy? And does that outweigh the effort and unreliability?”

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