In Utrecht, the taking of corona rapid testing in a test street started. Its a trial of the UMC, hoping to find out how reliable the tests are. If the surveys show that the rapid tests are good enough, the Cabinet hopes that they can be deployed on a large scale from November onwards.
People who take the rapid test also receive a normal corontest during the examination. The researchers then put the results side by side. It is the first time that corona rapid testing has been widely deployed in a test street. There will also be trials in other hospitals in the coming weeks, such as the Erasmus MC.
Currently, the tests in the Netherlands use PCR tests to determine whether people are infected with the coronavirus. That test shows the genetic material of the coronavirus. Virologists and microbiologists call this test the gold standard because it is very sensitive. “The PCR test already shows a little virus in the body that there is a corona infection,” says microbiologist Rob Schuurman. “But the process that the PCR test takes in the laboratory takes a long time, from start to finish, about five hours.”
“A kind of pregnancy test.”
The hope is that rapid testing can provide a solution. Not as a substitute for the PCR test, but for example to quickly distinguish between people who have the virus and those who still need a PCR test. Also, quick tests can be useful to map if the virus is going around in certain places, is the thought.
In the video below, microbiologist Rob Schuurman explains how the UMC Utrecht rapid test works:
There are several types of rapid testing on the market. During the study at UMC Utrecht, they use the rapid antigen test. According to Schuurman, the test, which looks like a kind of pregnancy test, looks at pieces of protein typical of the coronaviruss protein shell. The result will be there in 15 to 20 minutes.
According to the researchers, the trial should show which people the rapid test can be useful for. Schuurman: “We know from these antigen tests that they are less sensitive. But now we want to know which part of the infected people we can prove the coronavirus to, and at which part we cant.”
Schuurman voted positively about the employability: “At the moment we have many people in the Netherlands with an acute infection. That usually means that they carry a lot of virus particles. With them, we can probably use the quick test to show if they have the virus.”
Earlier this week, the GGD said that 10,000 people have to wait a day to be tested, and then sometimes wait more than 48 hours for the result. The demand for corona-virus tests is high and therefore the need for a good rapid test is growing.
Yet Schuurman warns that when performing rapid tests, a whole logistical operation is also required. “We need to use this test per patient, while we can examine the PCR test by almost 100 at a time. So we need a completely different organisation for these rapid tests,” says the microbiologist. The advantage is that less training is required to perform the test than the current PCR test.
The UMC Utrecht test with the rapid testing takes about three weeks. It should then be clarified whether the rapid tests are suitable for larger use.