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:

  • Rapid antigen testing at the point of care can be performed anywhere that fast diagnosis of COVID-19 is needed, for patients with or without COVID-19 symptoms. Nasal specimens can be collected by a healthcare provider or self-collected under the supervision of a healthcare professional. No laboratory personnel or equipment are required. Rapid antigen tests can also be used for self-testing at home in some countries.
  • Laboratory-based antigen testing can be used to identify currently infected individuals quickly with improved workflow from swab to result in less than one hour. These tests enable community testing with fast, high-volume laboratory equipment and can deliver automated results, making reporting to public health authorities more streamlined.
  • 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 identifies antibodies that may be present in a patient’s blood. These antibodies indicate whether an individual has generated an immune response to the virus. This testing is critical to determine the full scope of COVID-19 disease, combating the pandemic, and rebuilding public confidence. Our tests have been and continue to be engineered with the utmost focus on science – with many providing specificity above 99% and delivering low false positive rates. And with one of the largest installed bases of laboratory equipment worldwide, we’re able to provide access to high-quality testing to hundreds of thousands of patients. These tests are also key to enabling an effective vaccination strategy and helping in the pursuit to better understand immunity. 

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.

PPP Report on Antibody Testing

A new report from Public Policy Projects (PPP) in the United Kingdom, in partnership with Siemens Healthineers, considers the potential antibody testing holds in increasing the efficiency of the COVID-19 vaccination program, as well as barriers that currently exist. The report recommends public health, NHS personnel, and the industry give consideration to collaborating on new and sustainable diagnostic and monitoring systems post-pandemic.

The report identifies series of key recommendations which include:

  1. Antibody testing should be regarded as an investigational tool, useful for population surveillance and testing those at risk of a sub-optimal vaccine response.
  2. Measuring antibody levels post-vaccination to determine eligibility for a booster vaccination has been proposed as a vaccine-sparing targeted strategy. The appropriateness of this approach needs urgent consideration.
  3. Nations, like the UK, should encourage a global effort, including bodies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the G7 countries, to work on developing COVID-19 antibody standards as a matter of urgency. 
* Not applicable in the United States.

As we look 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.

School kids waving

Ongoing monitoring can help prevent widespread infection within institutions and workplaces such as schools, offices, dormitories, factories, correctional institutions, and medical facilities.

Demand for COVID-19 testing continues to increase, placing great pressure on large organizations and communities to efficiently identify COVID-19 infection. Lab-based antigen testing can be easily integrated on currently available high-throughput instruments already in use for routine diagnostic testing.


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.