October 23, 2020
The Federal Medicines Agency has selected the companies Abbott, AMEDA Labordiagnostik, Biosynex, Nal von Minden and Surescreen to provide millions of corona rapid tests.
Flanders decided on Friday to buy four million fast corona tests. A budget of 15 to 30 million euros has been set aside for this. The first half a million tests ordered by the federal government would be there next week. It pays 2.86 million euros for five times 100,000 tests through the companies Abbott, AMEDA Labordiagnostik, Biosynex, Nal von Minden and Surescreen. Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Open VLD) indicated in parliament that the federal government is aiming for five million tests in the first phase.
IMEC develops lightning-fast corona breath test
Researchers at the Leuven-based imec are working on a rapid PCR test that can tell within five minutes whether someone is infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
What is new is that the test uses exhaled air. This makes the test very accessible and can be used for broad testing.
The rapid antigen tests are in addition to the PCR tests currently in use. The antigen tests are less sensitive than the PCR tests, so they can miss positive cases. But they do indicate whether someone is contagious, while PCR tests only show that someone is infected. Another advantage is that no lab is required for the rapid tests, although they have to be performed by specialized healthcare personnel. A rapid test works like a pregnancy test, with a result within 15 minutes, after a swab with a nose or throat swab.
The rapid tests can help relieve the labs. They can handle about 65,000 PCR tests, while more than 70,000 are administered daily. This led to such delays that the entire testing strategy was revised to accommodate all tests.
The Federal Medicines Agency (FAMHP) coordinates the orders. Flanders wants to use them in mid-November and companies and schools are eager to use them. Rapid tests give them a status update on who is infected much faster. This means that some or all employees do not have to be quarantined immediately. They are already being used here and there, but experts have doubts about the best strategy. A working group led by Professor Herman Goossens is investigating where and for whom they are best used. The first meeting on Wednesday was inconclusive.
Rapid tests give them a status update on who is infected much faster. This means that some or all employees do not have to be quarantined immediately.
The Risk Assessment Group (RAG), a vehicle that assists the government in the health crisis, issued an advisory report on 12 October outlining the contours of such a strategy. The RAG sees the rapid test as a promising addition to the PCR test, albeit more in schools and companies.
“In places with many vulnerable people, there is a risk that you will miss an infectious person, which is a potential time bomb,” Paul Pardon, member of the task force, told De Tijd this week. Reservations are also appropriate for another method, the saliva test. “Use is only recommended for repeated, at least weekly, screening in adults without symptoms, such as staff in residential care centers.” In the advice, the experts outline ten situations or patients and which test is best used, with possible alternatives.
Large companies, schools or residential care centers can purchase tests themselves. The FAMHP will place an overview with homologated tests on its website.
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