Another Covid-19 test shortage may be looming for the Netherlands

Doctor in protective gear taking a nasal swab from a man
Doctor in protective gear taking a nasal swab from a manzstockphotosDepositPhotosDeposit Photos

The Netherlands may well face a new shortage of coronavirus tests in the autumn, according to Edwin Boel, project leader of the national coordination team or the diagnostic chain LCDK. The Netherlands wants to strongly increase the number of tests, but the demand for tests is growing enormously worldwide and there are already concerns about availability, AD reports.

The Netherlands is currently handling about 20 thousand coronavirus tests per day. Two weeks ago that was still 13 thousand. Public health institute RIVM expects that some 70 thousand tests per day will have to be done in the autumn, partly because more people with have cold and flu-like symptoms then. Other countries have similar plans in upping their coronavirus testing.

"The pressure from abroad is enormous, it continues to be a struggle to get enough [tests]," Boel said in an interview with AD. Test manufacturers are also in a difficult position, because they have to increase production, but are also dependent on their suppliers. 

Just increasing testing fro 13 thousand per day to 20 thousand already resulted in longer waiting times at GGD testing locations. In some regions, people have to wait days to get their results. According to Boel, questions like how the GGDs  weren't prepared for more testing while everyone knew a second wave was coming is understandable, but also unfair. According to him, testing depends on many factors - whether there is enough call center workers,enough testing locations, whether manufacturers can provide enough tests, whether laboratories can process all these tests. 

The health services are all working very hard to make sure 70 thousand tests per day are possible in the autumn, Boel said. "In principle, laboratories are ready to take 30 thousand tests a day and further expand their capacity," he said. "In general, if the supply at the higher level becomes stable again, laboratories can adjust to it. It is especially the changing periods, like now, that are complicated."