For a few weeks now, projects with lollipop tests have been running in day care centers in Cologne and in primary and special schools throughout NRW. Much has been reported about the so-called lollipop tests, as they represent a simple and child-friendly method for Covid tests. In addition to the University of Cologne, the biobanking specialist MEDEORA is also involved in both projects, which will run until the summer holidays and have different project sponsors, and take care of “the data”.
In the school project, more than 730,000 students in almost 3,800 primary and special schools in NRW are tested for the corona virus twice a week in their study groups. The testing is initially carried out in groups (“pool testing”). Only when a group has tested positive are individual tests carried out on the group members. The schools carry out the tests and the samples are examined at a total of 12 large laboratories. The samples are sent to the laboratories anonymously under a sample number, so that the laboratory does not know who it is.
User-friendly data collection
A central database is used to record data on the sample number, how the class size was on the day and which class was tested in each case. The schools enter this data themselves in a corresponding, user-friendly portal for data collection, for which they have access data. The Cologne-based biobank and laboratory software specialist MEDEORA is there to support you. This also applies to the participating laboratories, which in turn enter the results of the tests under the respective number via the online portal. The portal, which is made available on the basis of the “BioARCHIVE” software, thus acts as a kind of data hub.
The schools only receive the information that is relevant to them in order to initiate individual tests, while the system’s anonymized and ordered database grows overall with contextual information.
“The acceptance is high, the schools are very motivated and committed to the cause,” says Dr. Norbert Schmeißer, Managing Director of MEDEORA. “This ensures that we have very good data.” The University of Cologne wants to use this data to answer various scientific questions.
MEDEORA is a technical service provider for data collection and data processing and supports the scientific evaluation of the data.
Professional data analysis
Based on the data processing and analysis, which will take place by the end of August, it should be found out what happens in the population group of children under the age of 12, for whom there is currently no vaccination. The aim is to gain more clarity about the infection process and how certain measures, such as face-to-face and distance learning, have a concrete effect.
Other data on all schools that the Ministry of Education has can be matched accordingly, so that patterns and dependencies can theoretically be identified. As the most populous federal state and with around 3,800 schools, the data in NRW can provide a solid picture that leads to a better understanding of the development of the infection process and can provide insights for the whole of Germany through mathematical modelling. In this way, the greatest possible benefit can be drawn from the large-scale project and the data collected.
One of the possible measures that can be derived is the development of a monitoring system using an intelligent network of monitoring points, with which it is possible to identify changes at an early stage even without comprehensive testing. MEDEORA Managing Director Dr. Norbert Schmeißer pleads for the establishment of such a network as an early warning system for schools, which can have a major impact with comparatively little effort.