Swiss researchers advise against rapid antigen testing

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A study from neighboring Switzerland is causing a stir. Researchers compared PCR and rapid tests – with devastating results.

The research team from the University of Bern made a direct comparison of rapid antigen tests with PCR tests under real-life conditions. For this purpose, a total of 1,465 subjects were tested with both methods.

Overall, the PCR test found 141 infected individuals (9.6 percent) among the sample, whereas the rapid antigen test detected only 95 infections (6.4 percent). Thus, only two out of three PCR-positive individuals were also detected by a rapid antigen test.

The discrepancy was even more pronounced in individuals without corona symptoms: only 44 percent of PCR-positive individuals were also detected with the rapid tests. Thus, the accuracy would deviate significantly from the manufacturer’s data.

“However, the study also shows that rapid antigen tests are only partially suitable for reliably ruling out SARS-CoV-2 infection. The currently available rapid antigen tests should therefore only be used with reservations as part of the Covid 19 measures,” study leader Michael Nagler points out.

While it has been clear for some time that rapid antigen tests are less accurate than PCR tests, the study shows for the first time under controlled conditions how much the accuracy gaps.

For Tyrolean health expert Armin Fidler, this is no cause for concern, as he explained to ORF. That is the risk of antigen tests, which in return are available quickly and cheaply.

However, the testing strategy in the schools, which will start again soon, where two rapid tests per week are planned in addition to a PCR test, would not have to be adapted. Instead, the experience gained during the three-week safety phase should be built upon and possibly improved.

  • source: heute.at/picture: pixabay.com
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