A pilot program for a new rapid-testing technique to detect COVID-19 infection conducted at the Austria Center Vienna offers insights for the business events industry, which is seeking direction on how to meet safely face-to-face during the pandemic.
Large-scale attendee testing at events has been impractical because of the time it takes to return the results. During the Sept. 16-17 pilot program, conducting the test took an average of six to 10 minutes, from swabbing to receiving the test result — significantly less than the 15 minutes originally planned. It also provided insight into how many test lanes and medical staff members are needed (see graphic), according to a press release from the Austria Center Vienna.
The procedure, called NADAL Covid-19 Ag Rapid Test, was tested on 2,000 Vienna University of Economics and Business students, staff members, employees of partner companies, and journalists over the two days. Test subjects lined up to have a medic swab their throats, treat the samples, and place them on chemical strips. After that, the subjects took their test cassettes and waited for the results to show. Similar to a pregnancy test, the cassette reveals a single line if the test is negative for COVID-19, and two lines for a positive test.
In total, five people tested positive on the first day and one tested positive on the second day of the pilot program. The person who tested positive on the second day had previously tested negative, which confirmed that an antigen test only ever provides a snapshot of an individual’s viral load at that specific time.
This offers another valuable takeaway for officials: The rapid tests should be carried out on a daily basis at multi-day events, and a negative test result should never be mistaken for total protection against COVID-19. These tests are effective tools that significantly reduce the chances of infection at events, officials report.
The pilot project was conducted in partnership with the Vienna University of Economics and Business, Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund, and medical products wholesaler Alpstar, who sells the test in Austria.
For more about the results, visit the Austria Center Vienna website.