Doctors' associations oppose sale of fast coronavirus tests in Estonia ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Testing kit for the COVID-19 virus.
Testing kit for the COVID-19 virus. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Coronavirus fast tests are not reliable and should not be permitted for sale in Estonia, doctors say.

The tests, which detect antibodies in the blood, cannot be relied upon scientifically, representatives of three medical organizations, the Estonian Society for Infectious Diseases (Infektsioonhaiguste selts), the Estonian Society for Laboratory Medicine (Laborimeditsiini ühing) and the Estonian Doctors' Association (Eesti Arstide Liit) say, adding that every decision made at the national level should be based on expert assessments, since it affects the entire population.

The doctors said that people had too-high expectations for the usefulness of the rapid tests and basing a decision on whether to abide by movement restrictions or not.

The quality of such tests is difficult to control and their results hard to interpret, the organizations say, and their sale in pharmacies should be forbidden.

Only laboratory testing should be used, they say. A total of 21,866 tests have been carried out by the Health Board (Terviseamet) since January 31, including drive-in tests. More information is here.

The government is due to discuss the issue on Tuesday.

RNA testing, as used at official test points in Estonia, only WHO-aproved method

There are three distinct ways of diagnosing COVID-19, namely using antibodies, antigens and Ribonucleic acid (RNA) 

The last of these is the only methodology accepted by the World Health Organization (WHO), since it is scientifically proven, sensitive and rapid, allowing the disease to be detected immediately following the onset of symptoms, and is the method used in Estonia – either by taking a sample from the nasal cavity in the case of test points, or from the airways if tested in hospital.

Antigens are also obtained via nasal scraped but the method is much less sensitive and can reportedly give as high as a 50 percent rate of false-negative results.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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