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Study: Rapid population-based testing reduced coronavirus incidence by almost 60% in Slovakia – Abroad

The use of low-cost antigen tests, combined with restrictions, is an effective way to curb the epidemic, Science reports.

Finland is preparing with severe hustle and bustle to curb the corona epidemic through, among other things, strict movement restrictions and a mask obligation. These measures have been shown to reduce infections but at the same time have a detrimental effect on both the national economy and mental well-being.

There would be other tricks as well.

In Slovakia, an extensive rapid testing campaign was carried out in October-November 2020, covering almost the entire population. Within a week, it reduced the incidence of coronavirus by 58 percent in all 45 of the five administrative districts with two rounds of testing. Scientific journal Science published a study on the subject on Tuesday.

The corona epidemic has severely punished Slovakia. The country, with a population of about 5.4 million, has the highest corona-related deaths in the world in recent weeks.

The research team included researchers from the Ministry of Health and academia from Slovakia, as well as from the London Tropical Diseases Research Institute in the UK.

Antigen test kits cost a few euros a piece at the cheapest. In Germany, a pilot project is underway to test the audience at a sporting event with rapid tests. Photo of a volleyball league match in Berlin on March 24th.­

Population mass testing was performed with inexpensive antigen tests that give a result in 15-30 minutes. Rapid tests of this type are not as sensitive as pcr tests performed in specialized laboratories. Yet, depending on the manufacturer, they find 83 to 91 percent of people who can pass the disease on. The antigen test shows an active virus in a patient sample: it is positive just when the patient needs to be infected.

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According to Science, almost 5.3 million antigen tests were performed in Slovakia with SD Biosensor Standard Q kits. The pilot project was targeted at the four districts worst affected by the corona epidemic. This was followed by two nationwide rounds of testing.

The limited pilot project reached 87% of the 10-65 age group accepted for the test. 83 and 84 per cent of the target persons were reached in the nationwide round.

A total of 50,466 of the tested samples were positive. On average, the proportion of positive participants in the test was 3.91 percent. Those who gave a positive sample were immediately directed to quarantine. At the same time, other restrictions and closures were in place in Slovakia.

If we compare the result of the campaign with the scenario of unlimited growth of the epidemic, the infection rates were reduced by as much as 70 percent.

Research report according to, containment measures and mass testing together proved to be an effective way to lower infection rates. Prior to the mass testing campaign, the epidemic in Slovakia grew by 4.4 percent every day. If we compare the result of the campaign with the scenario of unlimited growth of the epidemic, the infection rates were reduced by as much as 70 percent.

“In conclusion, the combination of nationwide restrictive measures and mass testing, as well as directing those who gave positive samples to quarantined home conditions, rapidly reduced the incidence of infectious individuals. Although it is impossible to make a clear distinction between the effects of restrictive measures and mass testing, the latter is likely to have played a significant role in curbing the pandemic in Slovakia. This tool may prove valuable in keeping sars-cov-2 under control elsewhere, ”the researchers write.

Antigen tests are also widely used in Germany. Municipalities offer the population free tests of the same type as in Slovakia. The test kit can also be purchased at a pharmacy or grocery store. In this case, the test can be done at home.

In Germany, free antigen tests are offered at municipal testing points. Photo from Tübingen on March 20.­

HUS is planning a quick test on a coron bus

In Finland health authorities do not use antigen tests for extensive corona testing in the population as they are not considered reliable enough. Only the Lapland Hospital District uses them regularly, as the antigen test does not require analysis of the sample in the laboratory. In Lapland, there is often a long distance to the central laboratory, which prolongs response times.

However, antigen testing is also used elsewhere in the country, for example in medical facilities that require a rapid response to a coronary infection in a patient entering treatment.

Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District HUS, on the other hand, is introducing a coron bus. With the help of rolling stock, the possibility of rapid antigen testing can be taken to places where infections are feared to spread rapidly. The coron bus can also be used for mass testing on construction sites and educational institutions, among others. The results of the rapid tests are verified by pcr tests.

– If we go to do traditional testing, the result is expected for hours or maybe even days and then only the person gets a quarantine decision. The rapid test can be used to immediately identify potential carriers. There will be a bit more speed to operation, said the director of diagnostics Lasse Lehtonen To the news In the beginning of March.

According to Yle, the corresponding mobile testing unit in Turku has been in use since December.

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