The plans for a free widespread population testing for the presence of COVID-19 were proposed by the ex-minister of Health, Roman Prymula. However, upon his leaving following a night visit to a restaurant, there are questions which arise about the plan.
Similar wide testing was done in Slovakia where only 1% of the 3,6 million tested ended up testing positive. Their goal was to test most of the population excluding children under 10 years old using an antigen test. These tests were proven less effective than PCR tests yet they give results faster and are cheaper.
“In Slovakia, comprehensive testing did not bring much benefits. It has been confirmed that the prevalence of the virus within the population is low. In Slovakia, the wave of the disease is not as intense as in our country,” said the epidemiologist Roman Chlíbek, Novinky.cz reports.
According to Chlíbek, the general testing of the population was abandoned and only those in nursing homes and social services will be tested widely. In nursing homes, tests will be done every five days for the most accurate results.
Various epidemiologists criticized the plan of testing the population using antigen tests. It was confirmed that such tests are less effective than PCR and do not always manage to detect an infected patient. It Is reported that they can be wrong as often as in 50% of the cases. Prymula also criticized the antigen tests for it.
However, there are other – though less likely – possibilities of testing. Saliva tests are now present in the Czech Republic and have been undergoing close monitoring. Jan Blatný, however, stated that the government is not planning to use them and will be leaning towards the antigen tests.
“For saliva tests, it has not been possible to prove that the accuracy and quality of testing are at a level that can be used. This has been abandoned and antigenic tests are clearly preferred. An examination of saliva is not on the agenda, ” said Blatný, Novinky.cz reports.