No test results for how long

Interview: How long does it take from the corona test to the result?

Germany is one of the countries that are testing particularly extensively for the new corona virus, including with the so-called drive-in tests. The procedure does not take long for the person to be tested, but the results can sometimes be a long time coming. Alex Heise, press spokesman for the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians in Bavaria (KVB), knows what happens to the result between the smear and the phone call.

Mr. Heise, how long does it currently take until the result is available after testing?

Axel Heise: Unfortunately, this can currently take a few days. Since March 2nd, the KVB has taken over 30,000 samples in the Free State by means of home visits and mobile and fixed test stations. All these people must be informed by the health authorities in the event of a positive test and by the KVB in the event of a negative test. Estimates by the association "Accredited Laboratories in Medicine" (ALM) show that fortunately only around ten percent of the tests are positive. This makes it possible to roughly estimate how many patients the KVB must inform.

How much work is such a call?

Heise: Patients often have questions about what the result means and how they should behave. We have therefore decided to inform the patients directly and by telephone. This consultation in a phase of greatest uncertainty among the citizens of course costs our dispatchers additional time, because the concerns of the patients also have to be taken seriously.

How long does the test, i.e. smear, transport and analysis in the laboratory take?

Heise: The smear lasts only a short time. Under optimal conditions, the evaluation in the laboratory only takes a few hours. I cannot estimate how long the smear evaluation in the laboratory currently takes in this exceptional situation.

Where are the tests evaluated in Germany?

Heise: According to the Society for Virology, there are currently 54 test laboratories in Germany that can evaluate corona smears.

Are there outliers for which the evaluation takes a particularly long time?

Heise: With the sheer number of 30,000 tests, delays or errors can hardly be avoided.

Is there any way tests can be evaluated faster?

Heise: There are so-called rapid tests on the market, but experts are very critical of their effectiveness. The KVB therefore continues to use the PCR test.

Such rapid tests are also available for at home; you can order them online. What do you make of it?

Heise: As I said, the KVB does not use rapid tests. In a healthy person, a negative test result for the novel coronavirus does not say anything about whether this person can still get sick.

 

The test currently available detects a current illness but cannot tell if a person has been infected before and has not noticed. It should now be possible to carry out antibody tests soon, in which an earlier infection can also be detected. Does that make sense for private individuals?

Heise: When so-called antibody tests come onto the market and their effectiveness has been clinically proven, experts recommend that people who work in medicine or nursing should be tested first.

We will keep you informed about all developments relating to the coronavirus in our live blog.

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