Test all NL residents in one weekend in fight against Covid, experts say
Taking one weekend and testing everyone in the Netherlands for the coronavirus, and then quarantining those who test positive, can buy the country a few weeks of breathing room to relieve pressure on the healthcare system, possibly without taking additional lockdown measures like a curfew or banning visitation, experts said to BNR.
The broadcaster's experts include members of the Red Team and Outbreak Management Team, health economists, and politicians, among others. Other European countries already made use of such mass testing campaigns, and data from them show that it could reduce infections for a longer period of time, according to BNR.
Xander Koolman, health economist at Vrije Universiteit, told BNR that massive population testing is a realistic option that could be presented to the Dutch population as a serious alternative to a curfew or a visitation ban. He thinks many people will be willing to get tested if presented in that light. According to him, such a collective test campaign could buy the Netherlands six to seven weeks. That could ease pressure on healthcare and create room to vaccinate the vulnerable, he said.
Medical microbiologist Bert Mulder, member of the Red Team, is behind the idea of testing the entire population in order to reduce the number of infections very quickly and efficiently. But he thinks testing everyone in one weekend is asking too much. "You can test severely affected regions and if the results are good, follow with the rest," he said to the broadcaster.
The coalition parties previously said that they are in favor of large-scale testing, starting with just a few municipalities. GroenLinks is also in favor of testing the entire population. At the moment, getting tested for Covid-19 is still a high-threshold activity, GroenLinks parliamentarian Suzanne Kroger said to the broadcaster. "I think that can be much more accessible, especially in neighborhoods where you really want to know what is going on. I hear it said it would not work if it aims to alleviate measures. But I think it is precisely about getting a grip on the English variant, of which we do not really know exactly where in the Netherlands it already is."