Gargling tests can be used for mass events. How do they work?

LAMP tests take samples through gargling or saliva instead of a nasal swab, which is uncomfortable for many.

Gargling tests in schoolsGargling tests in schools (Source: TASR)

Although Slovakia is gradually reopening, it is still required to show a negative Covid test result when entering non-essential shops and service providers, going to a swimming pool, gallery, museum or zoo.

The latest ordinance issued by the Interior Ministry will now allow LAMP (loop-mediated isothermal amplification) tests, as an alternative to PCR tests using nasal swabs.

Sensitivity matters

The LAMP tests take samples through gargling or saliva.

Gargling tests are currently used in schools, but the new ordinance stipulates that they can be used as an alternative to PCR tests when going to a mass sporting event. In this case, the tests cannot be older than 36 hours.

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Biochemist Pavol Čekan, whose MultiplexDX company develops its own LAMP tests, has pointed out that the sensitivity of LAMP test is important, as there could be big differences between various types of these tests.

“To test accurately, the sensitivity of the LAMP test should be at least one copy of a viral RNA per microliter of sample,” Čekan wrote on Facebook.

Easy to use on the spot

One of the advantages of LAMP tests, when compared to RT-PCR tests, is that they do not require a diagnostic lab, so they can be taken at mobile testing sites, Čekan said. This is why they have rather wide options for use, for example, near sport stadiums, places where concerts are held, as well as in schools, at the borders, airports etc.

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People can learn their test result within an hour, also quicker than when waiting for a PCR test, Čekan said.

In addition, the tests can be evaluated by non-medical staff. Unlike rapid antigen tests, the samples for gargling tests do not have to be taken by medical staff.

LAMP tests may be especially crucial when the pandemic will be losing its strength, up until most of the population is vaccinated.

“In the autumn, the tests may play a significant role when testing en mass, for example in companies, where non-vaccinated employees will still have significant representation,” Čekan wrote.

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