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A flood of samples and a bottleneck in testing: laboratory doctors groan under the omicron

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A flood of samples and a bottleneck in testing: laboratory doctors groan under the omicron


“Like a wall that came up to us” – this is how the chairman of the professional association of German laboratory doctors, Andreas Bobrowski, describes the situation in the PCR laboratories in northern Germany. The highly contagious omicron variant is more widespread here than in Bavaria. But it seems a matter of time before the labs are heading for problems here too. In Bavaria, too, there will soon be bottlenecks in the PCR laboratories, predicts Andreas Bobrowski in an interview with BR24. The Bavarian state government is preparing for an enormous increase in the demand for PCR tests due to the sharp increase in the number of infections, according to a ministry spokeswoman for BR. But Bavaria’s Health Minister Klaus Holetschek, CSU, does not want to change the general prioritization rules for PCR tests at the moment: “We already have a prioritization when it comes to symptomatic people. Now we just have to see where the laboratory capacities need to be sharpened. “

The federal government wants to create more laboratory capacities

According to Holetschek, the hope rests on Berlin: “The federal government wants to develop additional laboratory capacities. That would be important and desirable.” But is that enough? The chairman of the Professional Association of German Laboratory Doctors, Andreas Bobrowski, suggests prioritizing the PCR tests: “It’s easy to assume (…) that the fire brigade, police, and health services are served first. If possible, 12 to 24 hours – and the rest The population will then have to wait a little longer.”

Positive pool tests in schools require many individual tests

Bavaria also wants to wait and see for the pool tests in schools. However, with a much more contagious virus variant, more and more pool tests will be positive. This means that individual PCR tests must follow to find the infected students. This could then quickly bring the laboratories to their capacity limits. At the moment it is still working, says Health Minister Holetschek.

PCR result up-to-date within twelve hours

On average, a PCR test result is currently available in Bavaria in around twelve hours, according to the Ministry of Health. However, preference is already given to a person with typical corona symptoms. “This means that the transmission of results for all other samples may be delayed,” said a ministry spokeswoman for BR.

Prioritization of free testing from quarantine

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, SPD, said that with a view to free testing from quarantine, he would give priority to the PCR test evaluation for health workers. The President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Lothar Wieler, made it clear that in the case of a 100% omicron wave, it is no longer so important to check the exact virus variant. Laboratories can then be relieved here – especially when the capacity limit for general PCR tests has been reached.


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