Dutch Covid testing system heading for complete overload as cold season approaches: Laboratory
The Netherlands coronavirus testing policy - stay at home if you have cold-like symptoms and get tested for Covid-19 - already has the testing system, ranging from the call center workers who have to make appointments to laboratories that process tests, at its limits. And cold and flu season hasn't even started yet, Bram Diederen, director of testing lab Microvida, said to the Volkskrant.
"We are already reaching the limits. Waiting three, four, five days for a test result. That is just too long, you want to know within a day," Diederen said. "And then we are still in September. The weather is beautiful, not much is happening in the hospitals. I guarantee: when we are in October, the system will crash completely. This is simply going to be a disaster."
Diederen's lab, which has four locations in West Brabant and Zeeland, has been focused fully on Covid-19 testing since March. Over the past months, that has become increasingly difficult, he said to the newspaper. Of the around 1,500 test kits he needs per day, he can often only get 500, Diederen said. So he has to dip into emergency supplies. And in the meantime, his lab is plagued by overload, from over-tired employees to jammed equipment.
"Look, the goal of testing everyone with symptoms is in itself clear and sympathetic," Diederen said to the newspaper. "But in practice, you use the most complex logistics and testing modality that we have to screen the whole of the Netherlands. Often just to reassure citizens: no, you do not have corona. We see people who come to be screened several times a week, they already know them by first name at the test center."
"We are reaching the limits. You can see that with us, in the source and contact tracing, in the test centers. And so you have to ask yourself: couldn't this be simpler?" Diederen said.
He suggests switching to quick tests. "They are not very good at predicting who is positive, but they are good at predicting who is negative. If you can use these before a PCR test [the current cotton swab test], you can probably make a rough pre-selection: this person does not have the virus, but beware, this person may. You then use the PCR test for the latter category. And meanwhile you say: you may be infected, so stay at home and watch your contacts," Dederen said.
Other laboratories and hospitals also told the Volkskrant that they are reaching the limits of their testing capabilities.