Adding manpower to sampling would mean pruning from somewhere else, says Lasse Lehtonen, Hus’s director of diagnostics.
HELSINKI and Director of Diagnostics of Uusimaa Hospital District (Hus) Lasse Lehtonen supports the introduction of a vaccine-based corona passport in Finland, but doubts the possibility of a significant increase in testing capacity.
Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä (kesk) drives a corona passport to Finland, which could be used as a precondition for access to restaurants, events and gyms, for example. According to the Minister, the introduction of a corona passport would mean that the corona test should be admitted free of charge.
Read more: Minister Lintilä: The corona passport can be introduced in the autumn at the earliest, the test would be available free of charge
According to Lehtonen, it is difficult to find enough samplers for repeated testing of the population.
“Probably the analytical capacity would be enough, but there has already been a rather severe shortage of samplers. That is the kind of mobile workforce that is sometimes used for other tasks, such as vaccinating. ”
There is a general labor shortage in health care for which there is no quick fix.
“We have a good analysis capacity for this current need, but I think there are quite a few opportunities for the kind of day-to-day testing that is being done in Denmark, for example.”
In Helsinki, corona sampling has recently become congested from time to time. According to Lehtonen, increasing the workforce would mean cutting back from somewhere else.
“And then is it better to do those tests to get people into a restaurant versus being really treated for the sick.”
TURUN domain director of the laboratory area of the University Central Hospital (Tyks) Antti Hakanen is on the same lines.
“I would argue that it’s not possible, and it doesn’t make sense. In that case, the capacity would not be enough to test those that would be necessary to test. ”
“The capacity would not be enough to test those that would be necessary to test.”
Both Lehtonen and Hakanen remind that border testing currently eats up a large part of the testing capacity.
Hus is able to analyze more than 30,000 tests per day, but the sampling capacity is about 10,000 to 15,000 samples per day.
Tyks, on the other hand, is able to analyze about 2,500 tests a day. Tyks’s own sampling capacity is about half that.
Lehtonen estimates that Finland’s large laboratories will be able to analyze a total of about 50,000–60,000 tests a day. However, there are not enough staff in the same proportion for sampling.
HOW MUCH the need for testing would increase if a corona passport were introduced?
Lehtonen makes a rough calculation: If 40 percent of the approximately 1.6 million inhabitants of the Hus area had received full vaccine protection, about 900,000 people would be left with a test certificate or a certificate of a diseased disease.
If that number of people were to be tested per week, at least five times the number of manpower would be needed for sampling.
Currently, Hus does about 60,000 tests a week. The sampling employs more than 1,000 people from Hus and its subcontractors.
According to Lehtonen, the new situation would require about 10,000 employees.
“It would take about 20,000 to 30,000 samplers across the country to run it. That is by no means realistic. ”
Before the summer, Tussi assessed how the need for labor would develop if testing numbers were increased due to tourism.
“Doubling our entire sampling would already be really challenging,” Hakanen says.
ALSO challenges are seen in increasing analytical capacity.
Lehtonen’s view is that the state does not intend to fund testing after the turn of the year. In this case, it is not dared to invest in increasing capacity on the public or private side.
The situation is, of course, different if the state promises to pay for testing in the future as well.
“There probably won’t be a decision maker who would go to invest tens of millions of euros in something without guarantees.”
There is competition for test equipment in the global market.
“Perhaps one aspect is also that in many developing countries the situation is getting worse. Is it right that we buy all the pipette tips here in the North, where, however, the situation is already starting to ease, ”Tyksin Hakanen ponders.
ONE an option could be to extend sampling to pharmacies, for example. According to Hakanen, it would not happen smoothly.
“In Finland, this is a licensed activity according to the Communicable Diseases Act. Of course, anyone can get its license, but it has quite a few steps, which means it’s not that simple. As a result, free competition has not emerged in this market. ”
Rapid tests performed by people themselves are also not seen as a solution.
Rapid tests performed by people themselves are not seen as a solution.
“However, test certificates are certificates that enjoy public credibility, the issuer of which should have some kind of objectivity and competence. In general, in any activity, we are not terribly confident that people will write permits for themselves, ”says Lehtonen.
“In that, the temptation to give oneself a suitable testimony is quite great.”
Another problem is that rapid tests do not give as reliable a result as tests used by professionals.
“If combined with inexperienced and incompetent sampling, I wouldn’t terribly give reliability to those tests.”
LEHTONEN supports the corona passport in the form in which it is currently created for Kanta services.
In addition to vaccination information, the EU corona certificate includes information on the test result and the disease contracted. According to Lehtonen, it could also be used as such within the country.
“But that we would substantially increase our daily testing capacity just to have a fresh figure in the corona passport feels a bit unrealistic. I would place more emphasis on the coverage of vaccination protection and thus obtaining a passport. ”
The vaccination passport has raised concerns about whether it puts people in an unequal position.
“Of course, the rather harsh interpretation must be that it is not equal when, however, it has already been introduced on a pan-European basis in travel. I think it’s hard to think that getting on a plane would be terribly different from getting into a theater, ”Lehtonen commented.
According to Tyksin Hakanen, the EU corona certificate could also be introduced temporarily within the country.
In his opinion, the basis for testing should continue to be symptom or exposure.
“It would be absurd to test people to show that a healthy person is healthy. Under no circumstances should we go for it. ”