Four experts on surface testing, which is to take place repeatedly in Slovakia.
Marek Majdan, epidemiologist from the Institute for Global Health and Epidemiology of Trnava University:
Experience from national as well as from regional testing shows us that in this way it is possible to capture a relatively large number of patients at once, who would not otherwise be identified. The effect of surface testing depends primarily on participation and the accuracy of the procedure. If tests with good sensitivity are used and the majority of the inhabitants of the individual districts can be motivated to participate, this can significantly help to improve the situation by isolating active cases. Previous screening has shown that even repeated tests after a week have had an additional effect and can further improve the situation. However, it is also important to say that, in addition to testing, measures to reduce mobility must continue to be in place, all regulations in force must be complied with and the individual responsibility of each individual must be appealed. The ultimate starting point for a pandemic is widespread vaccination. However, until we see its effect, it is necessary to reduce the spread of infection by all available means. Testing is definitely one of these means.
Peter Sabaka, infectologist from the Hospital with the Ladislav Dérer Polyclinic in Bratislava:
We must first analyze this in detail as part of the Science Helps – Covid 19 and Workplaces initiative. We haven’t had time for that yet.
Mária Avdičová, epidemiologist from the Regional Office of Public Health in Banská Bystrica:
Suppression of the pandemic occurrence of COVID-19 must be based on three basic pillars. The first is the strict limited mobility of the population, as determined by the current lockdown and permanent control over its compliance by the population. Furthermore, it is targeted testing of those for whom testing is indicated. This category includes people with clinical signs (ideally separate from testing asymptomatic), contacts with the positive, employees of schools and kindergartens before they open, or employees of companies, firms, factories and offices where the spread cannot be stopped. This also applies to people who need it for a safe visit to a medical facility or for work reasons, such as commuters. The third important element is vaccination as the only promising preventive measure that currently needs to be given the greatest emphasis in order to ensure the widest possible range of vaccinees according to a pre-developed strategy.
Alexandra Bražinová, epidemiologist from the Medical Faculty of Comenius University in Bratislava:
Comprehensive testing is not appropriate in the current situation. It is very demanding to organize, it requires a huge number of health professionals and they are currently busy in hospitals and outpatient clinics. In addition, surface testing brings people together to wait for a collection, and this is a risky environment for the spread of the virus, as a much more infectious British variant is already circulating here in addition to the existing virus. The benefit of a single capture of the infected is reduced by false negativity and false positivity of antigen tests. Many people with a negative certificate will get a false impression of non-infectivity and will continue to spread the infection. Testing is needed in places with the highest incidence, in high-risk establishments such as hospitals and social service homes, and in strategic businesses that need to operate. Everywhere, however, it is appropriate to repeat the test several times in a row, if we are talking about antigen tests. In my opinion, the priority should be vaccination, our effort should be to vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible.
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