Covid testing method called into question

26.10.2020 - 19:48
Covid testing method called into question
The so-called pooled sample testing method increases the likelihood of false negative results, argues the epidemic commission

Private test lab Thetis, which oversees Covid testing at Vágar Airport, needs to reassess its testing procedures.

This is the view of the epidemic commission ahead of the upcoming contract renewal between Thetis and the health ministry at the end of this month.

The commission argues that Thetis’ pooled sample testing method increases the chances of false negative results.

Pooled sample testing

Unlike single tests, the pooled sample method mixes several  in Thetis' case, six test samples together and then analyses the pooled sample.

This method is quicker and makes it possible to test more people using the resources needed for a single test.

If the pooled sample is negative, it is likely that all the members of this pool are negative.

If, on the other hand, the pooled sample is positive, further analyses are made of each sample within the pool to establish which one was positive.

Method under review

“We need more reliable results than this method can provide,” says Michael Boolsen, who heads the epidemic commission.

“A Covid-positive person with low levels of Covid-19 could end up showing as negative in such a test because pooling several samples together dilutes the combined material.”

Turið Arge, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Health says the ministry was only recently made aware of this method.

“The pooled sample testing method is being used in many other countries, and we haven’t had any reason to think this was not an adequate testing method,” she says.

“But we will take a closer look at this before the contract is renewed.”

For further information about Covid-19 in the Faroes, visit


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