A corona self test? The lady at the pharmacy had already used one herself, she said. “Because you all have days when you don’t feel so good, don’t you?” So she had put a cotton swab in her nose at home, twirled it four times in each nostril, and dripped it mixed with test liquid in a ‘sars-cov-2 rapid antigen test’ from manufacturer Roche.
After all, the rapid tests that have recently become available are intended for ‘people who are suspected of being infected with covid-19’, according to the package insert. So if you get a sore throat and you suddenly smell less: quick test against it, right?
No, stop! Then just not!
‘They are not intended to be tested in the event of complaints,’ reads the second sentence of an information leaflet from the national government about the corona self-test. ‘Self-tests are intended as extra security, for people who have no complaints.’
The reason is simple: about one in five people with corona will have the test incorrectly negative. After which such a person goes reassured to the office, to grandpa and grandma, or to sell quick tests in the pharmacy.
It’s just a pity that you don’t just get that information when you buy a rapid test at the pharmacy. The government leaflet is not at the pharmacy, but is somewhere on the internet, hidden between the web shops that sell the tests. ‘The home test for corona has many advantages,’ I read at one such store. “You don’t have to make an appointment and drive to a test street.”
No! In case of complaints, you do have to go to the test street!
Fortunately, it is not equally bad everywhere. The home test of Biosynex, self-test number two that has been admitted to the market, has a package insert that is correct. And some pharmacies provide their own leaflet, in which it is also good.
But otherwise it is on the website of Hulptroep.nu, the ‘alliance’ of Sywert van Lienden and Bernd Damme, which imports the self-tests. In the question-and-answer section, I click on the question: “Who is this quick test for?” The answer: ‘In principle, these rapid tests can be taken from anyone. Whether that is a patient, colleague or neighbor with or without complaints. ‘
No! Not with, but without complaints! Without!
Which oelewapper actually came up with the bright idea of putting those self-tests up for sale in the store without proper explanation? You can feel on your clogs that someone who pays € 8.95 for such a test might be doing it because he has to go somewhere, but is a bit coughing? Surely it should say in cow letters: do not use with corona-like complaints? I can already see the sniffling and coughing corona patients walking around: ‘But I am negative, I tested myself this morning’!
‘From a public health perspective, I would like maximum efforts to be made to provide the correct information,’ says Alma Tostmann, epidemiologist in Nijmegen. She has been running out of her shoes for weeks to convey the correct information. ‘Even if you hang up posters at all points of sale, with the information from VWS.’
The ministry is shocked – and energetic. ‘We have contacted the manufacturers of the self-tests,’ responds the spokesman for Minister Hugo de Jonge, twenty-four hours after de Volkskrant photos of the package insert. ‘They will adjust their package leaflet so that it is clear that those who have complaints cannot do a self-test.’ The ministry has also raised the matter with the industry associations of pharmacists, drugstores and supermarkets. “They include this in the provision of information to members, so that everyone is properly instructed when purchasing a self-test.”
Beautiful of course. But it is also strange that they only do that now, after questions from de Volkskrant. ‘For me it’s about the sense of urgency that you radiate if you have this right from the start,’ says Tostmann. “I think this gets me so into it: that for me this detracts from the sense of urgency that we should still have.”