GGD abandoned coronavirus breath tests over accuracy complaints
Health service GGD is not using the SpiroNose rapid coronavirus breath tests, which were purchased to be used in dozens of GGD locations throughout the country. The results of the tests are not reliable and most of the 1,800 tests bought for millions of euros are now lying in storage, the Volkskrant reported based on conversations with those involved and documents in its possession.
With the breath test, potential Covid-19 patients blow into the device and find out within minutes whether they have the coronavirus, instead of a cotton swab up the nose or throat that has to be sent to a lab. The idea was that the breath test be used in line at GGD test locations, so that people could be sent home faster if they were negative.
The SpiroNose was first taken into use in Amsterdam at the end of January, after a trial period and based on positive advice from the Outbreak Management Team. It was quickly found that a number of people got negative results from the breath test, but positive results from a PCR test. The conclusion was that the breath test was not being used properly, and the GGD paused its use.
The use of the tests started up again after internal investigation with the manufacturer. The GGD then called the test "very reliable". But now the tests are again not being used. According to the Volkskrant, umbrella organization GGD GHOR Nederland noted that the reliability of the SpiroNose results were "far behind" desired. Why this is, remains unclear.
GGD GHOR Nederland refused to confirm to NU.nl that the SpiroNose tests are not being use because they don't work properly. "We are still preparing to use the SpiroNose as a test method. Based on the data collected in this preparatory phase, an advice will eventually be drawn up and presented to the Ministry of Public Health," a spokesperson said to the newspaper. "The Ministry will then make a decision about the further course of the breath test. Until then we cannot say anything about the continuation of the use of the breath test."