The imminent start of the new school year, the usual wave of colds and autumn flu and the fear of a second wave of Covid-19 pose great challenges to epidemiologists. In Berlin the school will start this Monday and in order to avoid a possible mass contagion, the Charité experts are working on the preparation of a kit for home use that will allow families to take samples directly at home, which will then be analyzed in the laboratory.

The main objective is to quickly differentiate common colds from Coronavirus infections: In both cases symptoms such as cough, fever and sore throat are possible. However, the kit is not intended for all families, but should be specifically distributed to families of those school-age children with mild symptoms. This could prevent people with simple cold from rushing to hospitals and doctor’s surgeries.

What kind of test will it be?

It must be specified that it is a pilot project whose details will have to be agreed between doctors, clinics and other Senate administrations. First of all, it must be made clear how valid the procedures established so far are.

The test should be painless and easier to use than the current ones. Tampons that work with gargle water, tongue tampons, cheek tampons and nasal vestibule tanpons are being tested. Parents can easily use them for themselves and their children, said Frank Mockenhaupt, director of the Charité Institute for Tropical Medicine and International Health.

Experts expect more colds and simple influences for children than Covid-19 infections

Doctors currently  assume that most children will not be affected by the Coronavirus, but by the simple flu virus. Rainer Löb, the federal doctor of the Maltese Rescue Corps (Malteser Hilfdienst), is proposing additional flu vaccination for this autumn, as he believes that a simultaneous wave of Coronavirus and flu would be “catastrophic” for the German health system.

If the Senate and the researchers at the Charité deem the home kits to be fully functional, the university clinic could already produce 10,000 units in the coming weeks; the experts at the Charité will then clarify how the kits can be sent to those who are willing to test them and how they will be taken to the laboratory. The costs will also be a problem, it is expected, but it is not yet certain, that the cost will be borne by health insurance.