The road to reopening safelyFrom laboratory testing at scale to testing near the patient, multiple options for high quality COVID-19 tests will get us to what’s next

Siemens Healthineers COVID-19 Hero Virus

Highly accurate testing at scale is essential as we move into the next phases of the pandemic. Whether testing is done in laboratories across the globe or your local pharmacy, test results must be of very high quality to best enable safe movement throughout our communities. Siemens Healthineers offers a comprehensive testing portfolio from screening and diagnosis to management and monitoring of COVID-19 patients.

Tests in the diagnosis of current infection:

  • High-throughput laboratory-based antigen testing can assess patients with improved workflow from swab to result in less than one hour. Laboratory antigen testing can scale up more efficiently than rapid tests and does not require the time or specialty equipment of PCR testing. In addition, laboratory testing delivers automated results, making reporting to public health agencies easier.
  • Molecular PCR testing is critical to understanding an infectious disease outbreak, and our RT-PCR assay is fundamental to detecting SARS-CoV-2 infection. As the pandemic continues, regional flu seasons and other seasonal outbreaks make it increasingly important to be able to understand whether or not the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen is causing a patient’s symptoms.

Tests in the monitoring of immune response:

  • Laboratory antibody (serology) testing can help in understanding antibody status after infection, to indicate an initial response and help us understand the duration of that response. Our assays offers semi-quantitative results, spike protein receptor-binding domain (S1 RBD) IgG antibody detection and very high specificity (≥99.5%).

COVID-19 testing, explained

From rapid and large-scale laboratory antigen testing used to diagnose and isolate infected people quickly to the gold standard PCR testing for accurate and early detection through testing for the long-term management and monitoring of disease, there are many options to combat the pandemic and rebuild public confidence.

As we continue to reopening society, how can you scale up testing for larger groups of individuals? Conducting antigen testing using a high-quality laboratory test can be an effective alternative to RT-PCR testing. High-throughput laboratory tests allow you to test large groups of people quickly and safely, isolating positive cases more quickly than RT-PCR, thereby identifying patients that need follow-up sooner. Laboratory tests with high sensitivity and wide clinical reach, such as the Siemens Healthineers SARS-CoV-2 antigen assay,3 can be an effective tool in getting us to what’s next.

Our collaboration with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and JRC (Joint Research Centre of European Commission) is developing the framework and reference that all antibody test manufacturers would be expected to adopt moving forward. With an international standard established and adopted by manufacturers, clinicians would be positioned to track their patients' antibody concentrations, regardless of the test method or manufacturer used. The second step is understanding what concentration of neutralizing antibodies are needed to confer immunocompetence or immunity to the virus, and we are currently working with both CDC and JRC to determine what is the threshold of these neutralizing antibodies sufficient to confer immunity.


Learning more about how our immune system responds to variants and how we can test for them is an area of needed research.

There has been much discussion in the media as well as in scientific research articles about the different variants of SARS-CoV-2 and their impact on community spread of the virus, as well as mortality of the virus and the potential for the variants to escape vaccines or our ability to detect them with assays. Variants of concern will continue to emerge, and enhanced surveillance will support earlier identification. How much do you know about variants and their impact on public health programs?

The term “viral variant” can be confusing and is often (and incorrectly) used interchangeably with other terms such as mutations, strains, and lineages. These terms are inter-related but have distinctions.15 Mutations are normal, abundant, and expected, especially with an RNA virus. What is the difference between variants, mutations, and strains?

To better understand the concern for variants able to escape neutralizing antibody, an understanding of the current mutations of concern is required. The identification of “variants of concern” in several parts of the world (including those first identified in the UK, South Africa, Brazil, and the U.S. but now detected in multiple countries) has elevated recognition and prompted investigation.15, 17, 18 More variants continue to be identified globally as countries initiate enhanced sequence surveillance programs. What do you know about each of these "variants of concern?"

More variants continue to be identified globally as countries initiate enhanced sequence surveillance programs, with the greatest focus on mutations in the spike protein. All currently approved vaccines (and most in development) target the viral spike protein, which contains the receptor-binding domain (RBD) that helps bind the virus to human receptor cells. 

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