Corona mass tests have started in Austria. The first results are available. But these can be wrong. A prominent Austrian politician is now calling for mass testing at home.
Austria has started mass tests of the crown in three federal states.
Because less accurate rapid tests are used, up to half of the positive results may later turn out to be false.
This isn’t a problem for experts – it’s important to be able to find and isolate corona positives as quickly as possible.
Austria relies on a mass testing strategy in the fight against the coronavirus. Participation is voluntary, but Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) has encouraged the population to be tested as much as possible. The government’s official goal is to have several million people participate by 13 December.
The federal state of Vienna alone can count on a daily test capacity of 150,000 tests. More than in the whole of Switzerland in a whole week (23.11-29.11) with 159,744 tests carried out. The canton of Grisons was the only Swiss canton to announce Friday that it will also be based on mass testing.
50 percent error rate
Mass testing began on Friday in three federal states – in addition to Vienna, also in Voralberg and Tyrol. The results are already available: in Voralberg, 0.4% of 12,131 tests were positive, in Tyrol 0.3% of over 12,000 tests were positive. Finally, about 13,000 tests were carried out in Vienna yesterday, of which 0.5 percent were positive. This is reported by the «Standard».
Rapid tests are used for mass testing. They are less accurate than conventional PCR tests. Oswald Wagner, Deputy Director of the Vienna Medical University, estimates that up to 50% of people who get a positive result with a quick test will again be negative with a second test. According to the manufacturers, the accuracy of quick tests is 99 percent.
In contrast, Wagner only expects some so-called false negative rapid tests, and this especially for people who are no longer contagious. 90 percent of positive cases would be detected with rapid tests.
Wagner explained this to the APA agency. Despite the inaccuracy, he is a supporter of the measure. Every person discovered and isolated helps to break the chains of contagion, Wagner is convinced of the “courier”. Speed is key to fighting the virus.
Free trials at home
Pamela Rendi-Wagner, head of the Austrian Social Democrats, takes a step forward. It also asks for free mass testing, but at home. In the ORF, Rendi-Wagner asked for “weekly self-tests in the living room”.
With this, Rendi-Wagner is aiming for new types of tests for which a medical smear is no longer required. Instead, the test person takes a saliva sample at home and sends it to the lab for evaluation. A company from St. Gallen recently started selling just this test.