Testing Times: Insights from Sonic Healthcare, a key player in COVID-19 Diagnostics, April 2020

Over 25 members and friends joined our first ever webinar featuring Evangelos Kotsopoulos, CEO of Sonic Healthcare Germany and German Australian Business Council Board Member, who gave an overview of Sonic Healthcare’s significant role in the COVID-19 tests.

At a recent press conference by the Akkreditierten Labore in der Medizin, ALM e.V., it was shared that over a million SARS CoV-2 tests have been carried out in Germany since the beginning of March. This is equivalent to 1.5% of the Germany population having been tested.

The top ten test labs (six of which are Sonic Healthcare labs) have been performing over 40% of the testing in Germany. Sonic Healthcare has been equipped to do the SARS CoV-2 test since the end of January and their German labs have conducted more than 800,000 tests since the beginning of March with over 7,500 employees working across three shifts 24/7 and continuing to increase their productivity every day. With a daily capacity of 93,000 tests, Germany’s testing capacity is much higher than that of many other countries and Germany is now accepting tests from other countries such as the UK and Switzerland.

While the current PKR tests have served well, they only provide a snapshot in time of the patient’s condition and the focus is now on antibody testing.  These antibody tests can help determine the prevalence of the disease across the population, the real mortality rate, and people with immunity so a certain percentage of the population can return to work. That being said, there are only four to five companies with the ability to develop these antibody tests and each of the rapid testing machines can only process a small number of tests at a time. With this limited ability to scale antibody tests, the next conversation will be around who should be tested and when.

Speaking about the positive learnings from this experience, Evangelos shared that the speed and willingness for scientists, industry and government to collaborate and the appreciation for the diagnostic testing was heartening.