The first cantons complain that the rapid nasal tests that are currently used in many mobile test centers are not safe enough to issue certificates. The federal government must now act urgently and ban these tests for issuing certificates.
There are two types of rapid tests that someone who has not been vaccinated or recovered can use to obtain a Covid certificate: the rapid nasal test and the rapid nasopharyngeal test.
With the nasal quick test, the smear only goes into the nose – analogous to the self-test for at home, only that it is carried out by a specialist. It is currently used in many mobile test centers. Because for most people it is more comfortable than the rapid nasopharyngeal test. In this case, the smear is taken through the nose to the back of the throat.
Covid certificates are currently being issued with both tests. But not both tests are equally reliable. The viral load in the front of the nose is less easily detectable than in the back of the throat. That means: the test result of nasal tests is less reliable. The canton of Bern therefore demands that the federal government prohibit rapid nasal tests for issuing certificates.
These rapid nasal tests are not of the quality that one can expect.
«We are not satisfied with the rapid nasal tests. For the Covid certificate, we need a certain certainty that only those who test negative will get one. And these nasal tests are not of the quality that one can expect, ”says the Bernese government councilor and health director Pierre Alain Schnegg.
Unreliable tests lead to deceptive security
A current study by Inselspital and the University of Bern shows that even the rapid nasopharyngeal tests do not even detect half of the positive cases in people without symptoms.
So there is a risk that these tests will exacerbate the pandemic instead of slowing it down.
It can be assumed that the error rate in the nasal rapid tests is significantly higher, says study director Prof. Michael Nagler. “So there is a risk that these tests will aggravate the pandemic instead of slowing it down, as people think they are in a false sense of security,” explains Nagler.
Zurich supports the request from Bern
If the Canton of Bern has its way, only those who have a nose and throat swab should receive a Covid certificate for a rapid test. The Bernese government council also wants to make a corresponding proposal at the conference of health directors.
If you are already testing, you should use the more meaningful test.
Support is provided by the most populous canton of Zurich. At the request of SRF, its health department announced that it was sharing the concern from Bern.
The cantons’ concerns and demands are also met with understanding by the President of the Federal Vaccination Commission, Christoph Berger. “If you are already testing, you should use the more meaningful test,” says Berger.
BAG wants to continue to allow rapid nasal tests
Despite the critical voices from science and politics: As the Federal Office of Public Health (BAG) writes to SRF, the federal government wants to continue to allow rapid nasal tests for certificates.
According to experts, the reason is that Switzerland and the European Union (EU) mutually recognize the certificates. The EU guidelines allow rapid nasal tests to be issued for certificates.