As live events continue to bite the curb in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic's wreckage, legions of pharmaceutical companies continue on a mad dash to the finish line in the race for a vaccine. In the absence of that increasingly mythical panacea, testing, of course, has become the most crucial and polarizing aspect of the painstaking process of reopening regional economies.
Austrian start-up testFRWD has now thrown its hat into the ring by creating what they claim is the world's first DIY gargling COVID-19 test kit.
According to the company's website, their goal is "to safely reopen the tourism and events industry during the pandemic" with the gargling test kits. They point out a number of advantages of the technology, like the fact that gargling eliminates the discomfort and pain of the more common nasal and throat swabs while acting as a more suitable option for children. They also assert the benefits to doctors, positing that the test kits allow physicians to maintain greater distance from patients, mitigating the possibility of exposure.
Other benefits include no sterile environment required, no specialized or trained staff needed, and the notion that large quantities of test kits can be issued due to their compatibility with standard lab equipment. testFRWD also maintains a high level of accuracy. "Our DIY test kit uses the gold-standard of testing: RT-PCR with 99% accuracy," said testFRWD co-founder Veit-Ander Aichbichler in a statement provided to Resident Advisor. "This is the only viable—and approved by local governments—solution from a safety perspective to reopen events."
testFRWD's kits require the patient to gargle for one minute, a process that Aichbichler says is "quicker, cheaper and painless."
"As a festival and club promoter, I realised pretty quickly that a single player cannot change the game," added Hennes Weiss, founder of Croatia's Lighthouse Festival and Aichbichler's partner. "Testing will be the only way within the next six-to-ten months to enable events, grant permissions and raise capacity limits. The challenge? Current testing technologies were simply beyond promoters' event budgets. At testFRWD, we have fought hard to bring prices down to well below market levels."
For more information about the revolutionary test kits and instructions on how to administer them, visit testFRWD's website.