Austrian start-up launches world’s first DIY Covid-19 test for live events

"Testing will be the only way within the next six-to-ten months to enable events"

Austrian company testFRWD has launched the world’s first DIY test kit for the coronavirus, which it hopes will help get live events back up and running.

For the test, users provide samples by gargling for 60 seconds rather than a standard nasal swab. The kit then combines with a smartphone app that allows users to receive their results within 24 hours.

testFRWD has said it can process 80,000 tests per day, with 99 per cent accuracy. The company’s process is approved by the World Health Organisation and is also CE-certified – the EU’s mandatory marking for regulating goods.

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The test is currently available over-the-counter in Austrian pharmacies, with a German launch expected soon.

Coronavirus test
A standard nasal swab coronavirus test takes place in Germany CREDIT: Andreas Rentz/2020 Getty Images

On its website, the company describes its goal as being “to safely re-open the tourism & events industry during the pandemic”.

It says the platform can allow “quick and convenient, large-scale testing for events made easy through the option of at-home pre-testing or local testing stations”.

Speaking to Resident Advisor, co-founder Veit-Ander Aichbichler said: “This is the only viable – and approved by local governments – solution from a safety perspective to reopen events.” He also described testFRWD’s gargling-based approach as “quicker, cheaper and painless,” compared to nasal swabs.

Hennes Weiss, Aichbichler’s business partner, is the founder of Croatia’s Lighthouse Festival. He told RA: “Testing will be the only way within the next six-to-ten months to enable events, grant permissions and raise capacity limits.

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“The challenge? Current testing technologies were simply beyond promoters’ event budgets. At testFRWD, we have fought hard to bring prices down to well below market levels.”

In the UK, meanwhile, a petition has been launched to urge the government to extend the furlough scheme for members of the live music and theatre industries.

The new petition arrives after claims from many in the live music industry that despite socially distanced indoor gigs being allowed in the UK from mid-August the vast majority of venues are not viably able to host events with restrictions in place.

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