Omicron – the kryptonite of rapid testing? Which ones you can trust and which ones you can’t

A doctor performs a rapid coronary test.

© Martin Schutt / dpa central image / dpa / symbol image

  • OfTim Niemeyer


The suspicion that the omicron variant of the corona virus causes problems for one or another lightning test was quickly confirmed. It is still not clear how well the tests detect the mutation. In general, there are quick tests that work well, and those whose results are more like a lottery. explains.

are quick tests an important part of Corona’s everyday life – at least they should be. In theory, when symptoms occur, after risky contact with an infected person, or just before entering a larger crowd, they should clarify whether you may have contracted the corona virus yourself.

Banal, but not taken for granted

The prerequisite for this, however, is that the quick test as well shows the correct result. This may sound banal, but some quick tests actually have trouble reporting an infection correctly. This is reinforced above all by the new virus variant Omikron. Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach acknowledged the problem fairly quickly. In early January, he made it clear on the ARD program “Report from Berlin” that one does not know how well the tests against the latest mutation work, but that one is working flat out on a list to show which providers one can trust can give and which better not.

Lists on lists

This list still does not exist. However, there are two other lists that can be used as a guide when choosing a quick test. One of them is published by the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices. This list shows all tests that are legal on the market in Germany in accordance with the provisions of the Medical Devices Act and that meet the corresponding minimum criteria for antigen testing specified by the Paul Ehrlich Institute in coordination with the Robert Koch Institute.

In addition, there is another list from the Paul-Ehrlich Institute, Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedical Drugs. This performs a comparative evaluation of rapid antigen tests in the laboratory. Only if a test also passes this evaluation will it be included in the list “Comparative evaluation of the sensitivity of SARS-CoV-2 antigen rapid tests”. The two lists are related, only if a test meets the criteria for both, it will be included in both. Or if it does not pass the ongoing tests, it will be deleted. There is also a list for this where the inadequate models are listed.

Detection of “very high virus load” is sufficient

The decisive criterion is the so-called “sensitivity” of the tests. This indicates how reliably the corona virus can be detected. This is illustrated with a percentage probability that shows exactly how a corona-infected person is actually recognized as infected. For the test to be considered permissible, a required minimum value of 75 percent must be achieved with a very high viral load. In addition to the efficiency of a very high viral load, the table also indicates the high and low virus loads, although the latter two categories play only a minor role in the classification.

Models that convince in all three categories (low, high, very high virus load).

  • Bioscience (Tianjin) Diagnostic Technology Co., Ltd Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Antigen Rapid Test
  • CITEST Diagnostics Inc. COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test (Oral Fluid)
  • Guangdong Longsee Biomedical Co., Inc. Longsee 2019-nCoV Ag Rapid Detection Kit (immunochromatography)
  • Hangzhou Jucheng Medical Products Co., Ltd SARS-CoV-2 Ag Rapid Test Kit

Unfortunately, most of the really reliable tests are often not available over the counter. However, supermarkets and discount stores sometimes also have compelling models in their range.

Convincing models that can be purchased at popular discount stores and pharmacies

  • Xiamen Boson Biotech Co., Ltd. SARS-CoV-2 antigen rapid test
  • Beijing Hotgen Biotech Co., Ltd. New Coronavirus 2019-nCoV antigen test (colloidal gold)
  • MP Biomedicals Germany GmbH Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Test Card

Tests that do not reach the required sensitivity may not be offered for sale and are also listed.

Insufficient models, which are therefore no longer offered

  • Lionex GmbH Lionex COVID-19 Ag Rapid Test
  • Redcell Biotechnology Anim Sirketi COVID-19 Antigen Test
  • TaiDoc Technology Corporation FORU COVID-19 ANTIGEN QUICK TEST

Waiting for the Omicron list

In the tables just mentioned are just a few examples listed. It is advisable to check the quick test variant that you have at home accordingly and compare it with the list to see how well and with what infectivity the model works. It is also only to be hoped that the list of test efficiencies planned by Lauterbach with regard to Omicron will soon be provided to get a better overview of which tests are really good and which are not.


Leave a Comment