SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

COVID-19 TESTS

Which Covid-19 self-tests should you buy (and avoid) in Denmark?

Many are turning to Covid-19 self-tests as Denmark phases out its government-run rapid test centers—but recent research demonstrates that not all self-tests are created equal.

Covid-19 self-testing kits
Covid-19 self-testing kits are now widely available in Denmark, but some products performed better than others in an analysis. Photo: Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

A study conducted by researchers across the major Danish hospitals, universities, and government agencies (including the State Serum Institute, Denmark’s infectious disease agency) examined the sensitivity of 46 rapid tests produced by 23 manufacturers. Some tests failed miserably, detecting only about 3 percent of positive cases, while others detected over 90 percent.

Why so many brands of rapid tests in Denmark?

While the United States only gave emergency use authorisation to three manufacturers of Covid self-tests (Ellume Limited, Abbot Diagnostics and the Quidel Corporation), the Danish government took a different tact. In Denmark, at-home Covid tests only need instructions written in Danish, a clear and easy-to-read result, and the CE mark—a label that indicates the manufacturer believes its product meets European Union standards for health and safety.

However, there are no independently-verified guarantees about the tests’ accuracy, and that’s led to a market swamped with defective products.

The study, which is currently undergoing peer review for publication in the Journal of Clinical Virology, has spurred Danish politicians to demand more oversight of rapid tests.

Independent member of parliament Liselott Blixt, the former health spokesperson for the Danish People’s Party, has suggested that tests with less than 50 percent sensitivity be removed from the market, broadcaster DR reported.

Blixt said that as a major purchaser of quick tests, it’s high time the government examined the quality of the tests.

“This could be money out the window,” she told DR. “We spend millions on these tests, including for schools, so of course we need to know how they work.”

Peder Hvelplund, health spokesperson for the left-wing Red Green Alliance (Enhedslisten), agrees that more regulation is necessary.

“It is crucial that we get a national control of it so that it is not up to the market, and so it is not consumers who are left in the lurch,” he told DR.

Winners of the study

To determine the real-world accuracy of each rapid test, the researchers tested 200 volunteers who had received a positive PCR result in the previous 72 hours, as well as 200 volunteers who were believed to be Covid-free as a control. Researchers followed the sampling instructions provided by the manufacturers for each of the 46 tests, for a total of about 3,800 test subjects (each participant used multiple tests).

The researchers concluded that the top 17 rapid antigen tests included in the study were significantly better than the bottom 29. But since most of the tests the study analysed are intended for professional use and can’t be purchased by members of the public, here’s a shortlist of what you can actually buy.

  • Flowflex SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Tests, produced by ACON
    • The study indicates that that Flowflex detects about 94 percent of positive Covid cases.
    • We found the Flowflex test available at med24.dk (125 kroner for a 5 pack) and Dollarstore.dk (25 kroner per test).
  • COVID-19 Antigen Detection Kit, by DNA Diagnostics
    • According to the study, the DNA Diagnostics kit detects about 91 percent of positive Covid cases.
    • DNA Diagnostics’ official distributor in Denmark is tepotesten.dk. As of writing, you can get a pack of 20 tests for 320 kroner.

A self-test by Chinese manufacturer Wondfo also scored above 90 percent sensitivity, but it’s unclear where they’re available for sale in Denmark.

What tests to avoid?

The worst-performing self-test in the study was Wantai’s SARS-CoV-2 Ag Rapid Test (Colloidal Gold) when used with saliva samples. The study authors concluded that nasal samples, rather than throat or saliva samples, can more reliably detect Covid-19.

What about the home-tests sold at Matas, Normal and my neighbourhood apotek (pharmacy)?

There were a handful of notable omissions from the list of self-tests included in the study, including Newgene Bioengineering’s COVID-19 Antigen Detection Kit and Boson Biotech’s Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Test Card—if you’ve snagged tests from Matas, Normal or your local apotek, they’re likely Newgene or Boson.

Uffe Vest Schnieder, a researcher at the Copenhagen University Hopsital Hvidovre’s Department of Clinical Microbiology and the study’s lead author, did not immediately respond to a comment request from The Local as to why two of the most readily available self-tests in Denmark weren’t included in the study.

Last year, Danish pharmacology news outlet Dagens Pharma reported that manufacturers included in the study were asked to contribute 400 tests and 150,000 kroner to offset the cost of health professionals visiting participant’s homes to conduct the tests. That’s the equivalent of about $22,838.

It’s unclear if contributions were collected per test included (with a total of 46 tests in the study, that would amount to 6.9 million kroner) or per manufacturer (with 23 manufacturers, that would be 3.5 million kroner). Boson Biotech did not immediately respond to inquiries from The Local Denmark about whether they had been invited to participate in the study.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

COVID-19 TESTS

What is Denmark’s Covid-19 testing strategy for the winter?

Danish health authorities on Wednesday presented the country’s plan for testing for Covid-19 during the next autumn and winter, when a new wave of the coronavirus is expected.

What is Denmark’s Covid-19 testing strategy for the winter?

The testing strategy for the latter months of 2022 will rely more on PCR testing than rapid antigen or “quick test” centres, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said at a briefing on Wednesday.

At the briefing, Denmark’s strategy for responding to an expected resurgence of the coronavirus during the colder months was presented.

READ ALSO: Denmark to offer all over-50s autumn Covid-19 vaccine

In 2020 and 2021, Denmark administered huge quantities of Covid-19 tests to its residents through a combination of municipal PCR test centres and rapid antigen testing at separate centres, which were run by private companies awarded contacts by the state.

The rapid test centres were eventually phased out in favour of home antigen tests.

Since March this year, health authorities have advised that Covid-19 testing is only recommended if there is a “special medical reason” for doing so.

This winter will see capacity at PCR test centres upscaled in response to rising case numbers, with rapid test centres not expected to be used, Heunicke said on Wednesday.

“We be able to quickly upscale to 200,000 daily PCR tests if this becomes necessary,” Heunicke said.

Testing will remain an important part of the national Covid-19 strategy because it will speed up treatment for vulnerable and elderly people who contract Covid-19, the minister said.

Denmark will also be able to genome sequence 4,000 Covid-19 tests weekly, which will enable new variants or subvariants of the coronavirus to be detected.

A new subvariant of the Omicron variant, BA. 5, is currently spreading in Denmark and recently became the dominant form. It currently comprises 59 percent of positive tests, according to Heunicke.

READ ALSO: Omicron subvariant now dominant in Denmark

Current infection numbers remain at a relatively low level, the health minister stressed at Wednesday’s briefing.

Health authorities envisage three possible scenarios for future waves of Covid-19, he said.

In the first of these, a new subvariant of the Omicron variant spreads but is not expected to have a greater effect on the health services than the variant did last winter.

The early months of 2022 saw Covid-related ICU admissions remain limited and social restrictions were lifted despite high case numbers with the transmissible Omicron variant.

In a second scenario, a new variant comparable to the Delta variant, which caused more severe illness, emerges. In that scenario, protection of elderly and vulnerable people would be more important, Heunicke said.

In the third scenario, a new variant that escapes community immunity breaks out.

Which of the three scenarios will become reality in Denmark in coming months is uncertain, Heunicke said.

The three situations are very different but all considered by the government strategy which aims to respond “quickly and effectively” with the objective of avoiding lockdowns and restrictions, he said.

READ ALSO: Danish PM expects coming winter without Covid-19 lockdowns

SHOW COMMENTS