The rush in taking fast tests – OPINION

The use of fast tests in the workplace is a good thing, however, it remains a medical procedure that must be carried out by people with the right authority. After all, fast tests are not self tests. It is essential that test results are followed up correctly in order to prevent chaos, believes Gretel Schrijvers, General Manager at Mensura.

For days, our hopes have been raised by the arrival of fast tests. This new testing tool confirms a positive or negative corona result after only 15 minutes. We are seeing how various private initiatives and companies are making frantic attempts to secure their (business) activities.  

However, the way in which these fast tests are being conducted is a cause for concernIndeed, fast tests are not self tests. They are not tests that people can simply take and interpret themselves. Situations involving fast tests taken inexpertly by self-declared testers cause chaos because they are not aligned with medical services, such as tracing centres and general practitioners. 

This means there is a risk of fast tests being rushed. The result may be quick, but the essential follow-up by doctors and contact tracers takes time as well. We are now seeing that the rest of the procedure is either being delayed or entirely abandoned. Two speeds are occurring, whereby the test result and follow-up are unsynchronised.  

The fact that the tests are often being taken by untrained people only increases the chaos.  After all, the tests are a medical procedure, which must be carried out by the appropriate people. General practitioners or occupational physicians are best placed to ensure the required registration, interpret results and handle the follow-up. It is inefficient and even potentially dangerous for people to start ‘self medicating’, especially since there is no supervision. 

Mensura and other external services are assessing the use of these fast tests and look forward to the delivery of the 4 million fast tests ordered by the government. For these to be rolled out on a wide scale two essential conditions must be satisfieda clear protocol for (company) doctors and a clear definition of the target groups to be prioritised for the fast test. 

There is no doubt that the use of fast tests can be a very useful addition to the test strategy. It can help businesses to guarantee ‘business continuity’ in these peculiar times. For example, repetitive testing would allow certain people to stay at work rather than be stuck in quarantine.  

So it’s a definite ‘yes’ for fast tests, but only when conducted by the right people and according to the correct protocol.The last thing we need right now is erratic improvisation.