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In a contract that is currently in force, she has also committed herself to carrying out two tests per week in eight federal states (except Vienna) from Monday. That must now be fulfilled. After the Christmas holidays, the Ministry of Education switched to a new provider for the PCR test program after a new tender.
However, the ARGE for Molecular Diagnostics had to contend with technical problems when evaluating the results, especially when assigning and evaluating them in the database. According to the Ministry of Education, “an incomprehensibly low number of positive cases” was reported, and the schools had received data “late, incorrect and incomplete”.
Legal steps checked
The department has therefore commissioned a quality check by means of comparative measurements by experts, and legal action against the bidding consortium is also being examined. To ensure that school operations are as safe as possible, the pupils in all federal states except Vienna – where the PCR test processing works – now do antigen tests daily. These are part of the school test strategy anyway, which stipulates three tests per week (of which at least one is a PCR test so far).
The problems with the PCR tests continued on Friday in Lower Austria, for example. A third did not get a result again, so the antigen tests are still being used. Lower Austria said they still wanted to wait for a solution from the federal government, but at the same time a legal review was being carried out as to whether the state of Lower Austria could provide independent testing options for schools – more on this in noe.ORF.at.
Rather bad performance in comparison
However, the “Flowflex” rapid antigen test used in Austrian schools performs poorly when compared with other providers, the blog “Stadtpolitik Wien” reported. In a study by the German Paul Ehrlich Institute, the test was positively rated as one of around 200 products tested. Of the 31 products that are suitable as self-tests, however, he has the lowest overall sensitivity, i.e. the probability that an infected person will receive a positive result.
If you take a closer look at the rating, this is mainly due to the poor performance in the middle range. The sensitivity of the test is differentiated in the case of very high (CT value 25 or lower), high (CT value between 25 and 30) and low (CT value 30 or higher) viral load. In people with a very high viral load, the “Flowflex” test detected around 94 percent of infections during the examination – it was in the lower midfield compared to the 31 self-tests. However, numerous products achieved 100 percent.
Ministry: Must be operable by children
Bad values were recorded above all for the high virus load – here the test was only able to detect four percent, which is why the poor overall performance. Numerous other products achieved values of 50 percent or more. Hardly any test recognized low virus loads.
The Ministry of Education pointed out to the APA that the criterion played a role in the selection, whether children can also carry out the tests independently – the fewer components are required, the easier it is to use. The “Flowflex” test only needs three components. In a study carried out by the Medical University of Vienna using a different method, he also performed best in a comparison (albeit with only seven other tests) in the diagnostically most important area.
criticism of the ministry
If you compare the result with Bavaria, for example, the picture is ambivalent: the schools there do not use a single product, but rely on different providers – including Siemens Healthineers. Its test recognized 100 percent of those infected with a very high and also 87 percent of those infected with a high virus load – i.e. significantly better values than the “Flowflex” test. The Roche test, which is also used in Bavarian schools, is different: This only recognized 89 percent of those infected with a very high viral load, but also 30 percent of those with a high one.
The Vorarlberg compulsory school union has massively criticized the Ministry of Education. Chairwoman Alexandra Loser spoke of a “total failure of the CoV test system in schools”. The switch to a new provider for the PCR test program in schools caused problems after the Christmas holidays – vorarlberg.ORF.at. Meanwhile, there is also great anger in Salzburg’s schools because the results of the prescribed PCR tests have not arrived there in time since the beginning of the week, as teachers criticize – more salzburg.ORF.at.
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