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New paper on evaluation of the Austrian SARS-CoV-2 antigen-based screening programme published in Eurosurveillance

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A large consortium with Michael Wagner as a senior author evaluated the sensitivity and specificity of the mandatory antigen-based SARS-CoV-2 screening programme in Austrian schools (data from March 2021). By using gargling-RT-qPCR data from a representative sample of 244 schools for comparison, we show that the antigen-based screening program has a very high specificity but only a low to moderate sensitivity. Thus, more than 70% of the infected pupils are overlooked by the antigen-testing programme and a considerable fraction of them is potentially infectious. Thus, as a mitigation measure, switching SARS-CoV-2 screening in schools to RT-qPCR based approaches should be preferred, where logistically feasible.