December 4, 2022

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Stop mass testing for corona and switch to random samples, two virologists have argued

Stop mass testing for corona and switch to random samples, two virologists have argued

As of March 23, all Corona measures will disappear. What is the use of large-scale testing in GGD then? Virologists Bert Nesters and Margoline Kickert agree: It’s no longer necessary. The virus can also be monitored using fewer tests.

After Carnival and Spring Break, infection numbers rise rapidly. Last week, there were an average of 60,000 positive coronavirus tests per day. GGD Test Streets still runs overtime, but why? Eight questions for virologists Bert Nesters (University of Groningen) and Marjoline Kickert (University of Leeds Medical Centre).

1. What about the number of positive tests in the Netherlands?

Nesters: “Not everyone with complaints has been tested for GGD, I suppose. But among people who still do, the rate of positive PCR tests is between 60 and 70 percent. 60 percent applies to the north of the country.”

“In Limburg and Brabant, 70 percent of the tests are positive, and the difference is mainly due to the carnival. People get close to each other, jump and jump. Yes, and then everyone gets infected.”

2. Will we stop testing?

Nesters: “I hope so! You can’t continue testing on such a large scale. Currently, about 500,000 people test positive each week for GGD. I’m assuming half of the people who have complaints get tested. At a rate of 1 million infected per week. If you keep going. That for a few weeks, you will have a few million people infected with this virus.”

“The omikron variant is really contagious. You want to know the percentage of positive tests, so you can see how the variant develops. But you don’t need 60,000 tests per day for that. It is also possible with fewer tests. So it can be scaled back.”

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Kikkert: “Detailed testing (PCR testing) can indeed be abandoned, but we must continue to monitor what is happening with this virus. We have to be careful that no new variants emerge. If we stop testing on a large scale, we must replace that with Samples. So: testing, but less. This is to make sure we are watching how the virus is evolving.”

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3. Is it a solution to switch to self-test only?

Nesters: “There are many people who use self-testing and if they test positive, they also don’t need to test for GGD. This is unnecessary and costs GGD a lot of money.”

Kikkert: “Through self-tests, you can prove that someone is infected pretty well. And when you are infected, it still pays to stay home. To prove that you are infected, you no longer have to use all the testing capabilities of the GGD. You become.”

4. Wouldn’t we lose sight of the virus if we started doing fewer GGD tests?

Niesters: “No, I’m not afraid of that. Whether you do 50,000 tests or 20,000, the percentage of positive tests stays roughly the same. You can only get more numbers after the decimal point if more people get tested. That’s why more people aren’t necessarily more useful.”

“There’s also a lot of testing outside of the GGD and other countries are also watching for the virus. The problem is basically that not all of the world’s population has been vaccinated yet. In many areas, the coronavirus will continue to spread for a long time.”

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Kikkert: “If we start working with those samples, we’re watching what kind of virus people have. Then we’re really watching the characteristics of the virus and whether we should respond to it.”

5. What if a new virus type emerges?

Kikkert: “If a variant appears different from omikron, we have another problem. The new variant could have completely different properties. This means that we have to look at it carefully. And we may have to take new measures and develop new vaccines. We really have to be careful, because the virus It’s still in full swing.”

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6. Will there come a time when everyone will be immune to this virus?

Nesters: “Immunity arises in many ways. For example, through vaccination and boosters, but also because people are infected. We just know that if you have antibodies in your body, you won’t necessarily be protected by definition, unfortunately.”

“If you have a delta or an alpha variant initially, you are not immediately protected from the omicron variant. Your body does not have the appropriate antibodies for that.”

7. Spain already considers COVID-19 the flu. What would change if we did the same in the Netherlands?

Nesters: “It will eventually just become a cold virus. I find it a bit annoying to compare Corona to the flu. Flu season happens every year and so do coronaviruses. In one flu season we have 1,000 deaths and the other 9,000. So you can’t just say it can be compared to the flu.” Because what flu season do you get into?”

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Kikkert: “Like the flu, we have to keep a close eye on this virus. We have to keep watching what’s going on in the community, so we can see if we need to adjust the vaccines. We have to keep watching this coronavirus and the way we do that is really going to be like The way we deal with influenza.”

8. What is your advice to the government? What will you do with the testing policy?

Niesters: “Drastic reduce testing in GGD, or even stop it. You can keep some testing sites open, so people can take the tests themselves when they come back from certain areas of vacation. But I think half a million tests per week is really unnecessary when we did tests Less, we also discover new variants and if a new variant becomes dominant, we will automatically test more, that organizational structure is there.”

Kikkert: “Watch the virus closely by random sampling, so that we can respond in time if a new variant emerges. But it’s no longer useful to test ourselves too often in GGD.”

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