14 Jan. 2022 05:45
The chairman of the industry association Accredited Laboratories in Medicine (ALM) sees the German laboratories at the limits of their diagnostic possibilities. Due to the latest regulations, the additional effort is increasing and reaching proportions that can hardly be managed.
Since the beginning of 2022 and newly defined guidelines by politicians, medical laboratories in Germany have been experiencing a situation in which, according to the responsible industry association Accredited Laboratories in Medicine (ALM), they are increasingly approaching the limits of their capacity.
The main reason is the lack of prioritization of the mass of daily PCR tests that are sent in for the appropriate diagnostics. Michael Müller, chairman of the ALM, is quoted as saying: “The high number of infections is accompanied by many tests. Because there is currently hardly any prioritization for PCR tests, the laboratories in Germany are increasingly reaching their capacity limits.”
“The question that now arises with regard to this problem is whether it is based on the known overload of the laboratories, the demanded mass of political default tests or the currently predominant Omicron variant.”
According to Müller, it is therefore imperative that “medical practices and test centers in particular are encouraged to align themselves with the national test strategy”. In his opinion, if capacities are tight, PCR tests should be carried out in accordance with the recommendations there. According to his assessment Business Insider:
“The fact that it will soon be possible to be tested free from quarantine will inevitably lead to additional work for the laboratories.” There were no forecasts from the federal government and the states as to “how many more tests we have to prepare for. The laboratories will now have to face the onslaught largely unprepared.”
The definition of the “national test strategy” can be found on the RKI website (national test strategy on the RKI website).
- The first priority for a PCR test is people with symptoms.
- In second place are people who have no symptoms but have had contact with confirmed infected people.
- Third priority includes people in community facilities or shelters where a case of COVID-19 has been confirmed. This includes, for example, day-care centers and schools.
The ALM website provides information on the subject of ALM data collection: “Since the beginning of March 2020, we have been conducting structured and standardized data collection for SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics in coordination with the authorities at federal level. Over 180 laboratories are involved in ALM data collection from all over Germany, representing about 90 percent of the current corona test events.
The data is used by politicians, crisis management teams and the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) as an essential basis for assessing the test process. The results are transmitted to the RKI and combined there with additional data. The complete overview will be published in the RKI management report.”
Mueller sees according to the Editorial Network Germany “no need to worry too much”. Rather, with increasing test activity and limited test capacities, it is now important to actually implement the specified test strategy. the dpa quotes the assessment of the Berlin Greens politician and Senator for Health Ulrike Gote. In her opinion, the demand for PCR tests, which are necessary to check a positive rapid test result, for example, remains greater than the supply: “We have high test capacities and laboratories and are continuing to expand their capacities. That would have been enough for Delta, it’s enough for Omikron not,” said the senator on Thursday.
The head of the federal government’s Corona crisis team, Major General Carsten Breuer, made a statement in the Süddeutsche Zeitung: “As with all scarce resources, we will certainly have to bundle capacities where necessary. This also applies to tests. (…) Employees in the critical infrastructure have priority there.” It is therefore crucial that the most accurate data possible is available to show “how the (omicron) wave is affecting us”. Breuer therefore sees the reason for the impending shortage of test capacities in the increasing number of infections. In the interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung the major general expressed certainty: “The omicron wave is coming towards us”, while at the same time admitting: “According to the first calculations, it should have come even earlier.” Nevertheless, the following applies:
“We need to vaccinate as much as we can. We need a bulwark against Omicron.“
Green health expert Janosch Dahmen spoke out loud Business Insider for prioritizing PCR tests. A prioritization, the focus of the processing, must be “on the one hand for important medical diagnostics of seriously ill people and on the other hand for the staff of the critical infrastructure,” said Dahmen on Thursday. However, this could mean that there could be delays in a timely manner, for example with the free test. “This not only means long queues in front of the test centers, but also that it takes a long time before the test result is available”.
The ALM website also gives an insight into the total number of PCR tests carried out in Germany.
“Since March 2020, 83,680,139 PCR tests have been submitted to one of the 182 listed laboratories. Of these, 7,610,189 have been reported as positive, which corresponds to a positive rate of 9.09%.”
During the week of January 3-9, 2022, 1,400,039 PCR tests were submitted for diagnostics, of which 327,911 were reported positive (23.42 percent). The ALM page summarizes: “In the first week of the new year, around 56 percent more SARS-CoV-2 PCR tests were requested from specialist laboratories in Germany than in New Year’s week.”
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