Coronavirus rapid tests could, similar to vaccinations, bring a little more normality back into the travel activities of Austrians and Germans, which are considerably restricted by the coronavirus. Particularly for water sports enthusiasts, but also for all other forms of vacation, rapid tests for SARS-CoV-2 are one of many possible solutions for the coming 2021 season, especially since the reliability of this type of test is constantly increasing as the development progresses. And since the SeaHelp editorial team naturally not only wants to report on problems with the corona virus, but also wants to present solutions for the near future, we will also report here in the future on possibilities that are suitable for making vacations abroad, especially in Croatia, Slovenia and Italy safer despite COVID-19.
One should be clear at least from the point of view of the editors: The coronavirus will not disappear as quickly as it has appeared. We will – and this is the bad news, for better or worse – have to come to terms with it. The good news, however, is that technology, especially diagnostics, is advancing all the time, and products are already available quasi “ready-to-market”, which reliably identify infected persons within the shortest possible time, thus offering the possibility of initiating epidemiological measures to limit the spread of the corona virus, so that next year’s vacation on the Adriatic can be possible. At best also without ad-hoc travel warnings from the Austrian government.
End of September Market launch
A promising announcement has now come from the pharmaceutical company Roche, a heavyweight in the industry with around 16,700 employees in Germany. In the short term, Roche intends to introduce a so-called SARS-CoV-2 antigen rapid test in Germany, which reacts highly sensitively to the corresponding viruses and presents a result within 15 minutes (according to the manufacturer’s specifications). The market launch is scheduled to start in September with a capacity of 40 million units per month, and production is to be increased to 80 million units per month by the end of 2020.
Rapid tests almost as accurate as PCR tests
At this point we would like to deliberately refrain from using technical medical terms and legally motivated restrictions of the Roche press release, which is difficult for non-medical professionals to understand, but physicians interviewed by us have put it in a nutshell: “The tests provide results that differ from conventional PCR tests almost only in decimal places! In addition, they are supposed to be significantly cheaper than the PCR tests that are currently prescribed.
Big question: Does the legislator accept this type of test?
Will such rapid tests also be accepted by the governments of Austria and Germany in the future? The question cannot be answered conclusively, but there are important arguments in favor of this: The cost pressure of health insurance companies or the pressure on public funds’ budgets due to costly PCR tests is high. Laboratories that can evaluate these tests are currently working at the limits of their capacity in some cases, and many industries, including the travel industry, require fast, promptly reported results. And not to forget: Companies like Roche have certainly “felt” through their extensive lobbying activities whether an investment in the necessary production facilities is worthwhile.
Differences PCR test and antigen test
Both the PCR test and the rapid antigen test involve a smear from the throat. In the PRC test, the genetic material of the virus is detected, roughly explained, and in the antigen rapid test in the antigen rapid test, protein fragments (proteins) in the sample provide the result. However, there is one disadvantage: Those who test positive do not necessarily have to be positive for SARS-CoV-2, but can also be infected with another, more harmless corona virus. From this point on, the PCR test can be used to confirm the results.
A corona test as easy as a pregnancy test? That is possible and could soon save the winter sports season for Germans, Austrians and Slovenians. And all other holidaymakers could enjoy a wonderful 2021 vacation on the Adriatic Sea in Italy, Slovenia or Croatia. Just for the sake of completeness: Besides Roche, an exemplary selected company, there are of course other providers of corona rapid tests.