Press release - 01 October 2021 Zurich
On 1 October 2021, the start-up Testasy will launch one of Europe's first all-round test procedures that allow people to give saliva samples from home in order to obtain an EU QR certificate. The video-monitored PCR tests, which in Switzerland are analyzed via a so-called pooling approach, were already introduced in other EU countries in April 2021 and will now be launched in Switzerland just in time for the autumn holidays.
"Certificate and ID please" - two years ago, no one would have expected this sentence when entering a gym or a restaurant. In the meantime, compulsory testing is the order of the day for the unvaccinated - and for those who have been vaccinated to travel. Especially at the start of the autumn holidays, however, the test centres are reaching their limits. In many places, no more Corona test dates are available until mid-October.
Swiss start-up Testasy recognized the need for more efficient testing strategies back in November 2020 and has been tinkering with safe and reliable remote PCR diagnostics ever since. "When I wasn't allowed to get on a plane because I didn't have the right certification, I realised that we desperately needed innovation and technology in the travel industry," says Dr Michel Bielecki, co-founder, and CEO of Testasy. The lack of reliable information, constantly changing measures and the difficulty of verifying requirements have turned what was once a pleasant travel planning experience into a complex bureaucratic maze, says Dr Michel Bielecki.
Testasy's PCR solution is a joint project between the Swiss medical technology company GobiX (Testasy's parent company), the service laboratory Biolytix AG, the pharmacy chain Dr. Bähler Dropa and the digital practice docstation. "While we developed the entire IT infrastructure and security mechanisms and carry out the telemedical consultations in cooperation with docstation, Biolytix takes care of the molecular biological analysis, and the pharmacy chain Dr. Bähler DROPA with its Bahnhof Apotheke Drogerie Basel takes care of the logistics. The offer is to be expanded in other locations of their group of 70 pharmacies after the pilot is completed," explains Dr Michel Bielecki.
Dr. Bähler Dropa: "With the low-threshold access to health services and the attractive opening hours in our pharmacies, we complete the all-round testing procedure of Testasy. Thanks to the innovative testing concept, we have a safe and fast offer for our unvaccinated customers with maximum convenience without an unpleasant nasopharyngeal swab."
Already at the beginning of the pandemic, GobiX worked with Biolytix to develop 3D-printed diagnostic material needed for testing procedures. While GobiX worked with ETH on saliva collection devices, the specialised laboratory for molecular biological and microbiological analytics also pioneered their Covid PCR pooling method last year.
"As a service laboratory, the customer is at the center of our attention. If we can help to improve the test offer, everyone wins. With the Testasy team we have found a partner who meets the customers where they are most comfortable, in the comfort of their own living room". Adrian Härri, CEO of Biolytix AG explains further: "The real-time PCR pooling method helps to reduce costs for the individual and at the same time has a much higher sensitivity than antigen rapid tests".
The Testasy solution is currently only available in the Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft region - with samples being dispensed at the Bahnhof Apotheke. In the coming weeks, the team plans to expand its offer to Zurich, Bern, Geneva, and Lausanne. "Our goal is to offer a sustainable testing strategy during ongoing vaccinations that allow people to go about their daily activities safely," says Dr Adrian Palma of docstation.
You can either order the PCR test kit online on the Testasy website or buy it at a pharmacy from the Dr. Bähler Dropa network (currently only at the Bahnhof Apotheke Basel). After receiving the kit, there is the option of taking the saliva sample directly at the pharmacy under the guidance of a healthcare professional - or at home as part of an online consultation. Those who opt for the latter scan the QR code on the packaging at home to arrange a telemedical consultation. During the video call, one is guided through the process step by step by a medical professional. Once the sample has been taken, it must be handed in at the Bahnhof Apotheke - there is also the option of having it delivered directly to the laboratory by courier. This service is available immediately during business hours on weekdays and around the clock by appointment - starting at 90 Swiss francs. The Covid certificate is valid for 72 hours after sampling. If submitted by 2 p.m., a certificate is guaranteed on the same day. From 5 October, Testasy will also offer tests for companies in cooperation with Orphanbiotec AG.
GobiX is a Swiss MedTech start-up founded in April 2020 to address the shortage of COVID-19 swabs used for testing using 3D printing technology. During the year, GobiX specialised in 3D printed diagnostic medical devices. Its developments include a CE-certified saliva collection device developed in collaboration with ETH. Since November 2021, GobiX has been focusing on innovative ways to facilitate testing procedures, and launched its subsidiary Testasy in April 2021. Testasy is currently operational in two EU countries and entered the Swiss market in July. In August 2021, Testasy became an industry partner of antigen manufacturer Abbott, which supports Testasy in its venture.
What began as a pharmacy in Steffisburg has grown over the past decades into a leading Swiss healthcare provider. The Bernese family business unites its own pharmacies and drugstores as well as locations of franchise partners under one roof. Today, the network comprises almost 120 locations throughout German-speaking Switzerland.
Biolytix AG, a specialist in molecular biological and microbiological analyses, was founded in 1998 and is headquartered in Witterswil, Switzerland. Biolytix AG is ISO 17025 accredited, has an operating license from SwissMedic, and offers a wide range of services: from microbiological water tests to gene expression studies for the pharmaceutical industry. Biolytix is financially independent and privately owned. https://www.biolytix.ch/
After a successful launch in Stettbach in March 2021, docstation is already opening a second health centre in the heart of Central Switzerland in Emmen in January 2022. The innovative docstation business model combines first-class medicine with advanced technology to ensure the best possible medical care for patients. docstation does this by using comprehensive digital solutions for health management with the aim of a largely paperless practice. From online appointments, the digital check-up, online medication ordering conveniently from home to video consultations, everything is networked with the practice management software. This means that all data is available to the patients at all times. This gives doctors more time for their patients.