Netherlands offered 5000 extra tests per day by German laboratory
The Netherlands has been offered an extra 5.000 tests from a German laboratory in Cologne. The Dutch government have so far not taken the offer, explaining that the capacity for coronavirus tests in the Netherlands is sufficient.
German laboratory offers to perform tests
A laboratory in Cologne has offered to carry out 5.000 coronavirus tests per day for the Netherlands. “In the coming months, we will have enough materials to carry out 5.000 tests for the Netherlands,” said Roger Grosser, a virologist at the Dr. Wisplinghoff laboratory. This would almost double the Netherlands’ current testing capacity, however, Dutch authorities have yet to respond to the offer.
The Netherlands has enough laboratories to perform 17.500 tests per day, with this figure increasing to 29.000 on longer working days, however, there are not enough materials to fulfil these numbers. Hugo de Jonge, the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport, has said that the shortage of materials is a limiting factor in increasing the Netherlands test capacity.
Testing materials in short supply
In order to detect the coronavirus in a patient, there are two operations that have to be undertaken. A mucus sample is taken, from which the patient’s genetic material (RNA) is isolated from the sample. The genetic material is then run through a PCR tester to check for coronavirus. Both these operations need a special chemical fluid, which is the material needed for tests.
Despite not being able to produce the tests to full capacity, Dutch authorities have explained that they are still able to adequately cover target groups that have been specified for testing. Around 7.000 people are tested every day in the Netherlands, most of which are healthcare and hospital workers and at-risk patients. The Dutch authorities will increase the number of tests to 10.000 on May 11, in order to start testing teachers and childcare workers.
Dutch testing capacity “sufficient”
The Diagnostics Task Force, who are responsible for managing testing materials for the Ministry of Public Health, confirmed that it had received the offer, however, stated that extra tests were not necessary. “There is currently more lab capacity than demand for testing. In the longer term, their capacity can make a useful contribution to our national testing capacity,” said a spokesperson for the task force.
Similarly, the Ministry of Health stated that there are no worries about the testing capacity in the Netherlands. "It is good to know that more tests are available if we need them in the future. For example, if the target groups are to be expanded further in six months or a year, but we do not need it for the moment.”
One of the conditions that have been set for the gradual lifting of quarantine restrictions by the Outbreak Management Team is the institution of large-scale testing.