With the school start in Baden-Wuerttemberg the summer travel season ends in whole Germany. At the end of the summer, CENTOGENE and Lufthansa are taking a positive interim balance of the test centers at German airports. Since the end of June, the partners have been jointly enabling passengers departing from or arriving at Frankfurt Airport (FRA), as well as those from the region, to have access to fast, reliable tests for the SARS CoV-2 virus. This first "walk-in" coronavirus test center in Germany serves as a blueprint for a successful test concept and helps passengers entering Germany from high-risk countries.
In the summer of 2020, more than 150,000 passengers were tested at Frankfurt Airport using CENTOGENE's highly sensitive SARS-CoV-2 PCR test. On average, about one percent of the samples were positive during the last six weeks. Over 97 percent of the COVID-19 test results were digitally transmitted to passengers in August 2020 in less than 24 hours. Passengers who had registered for the test in advance only had to wait approx. 20 minutes before being tested. Most of them came from Spain, followed by the USA, Turkey and Croatia. In addition, almost 50,000 passengers were tested before departure, for example to travel to China or Dubai, where a negative test result is mandatory for entry. The general population from the region also used the test center. Since mid-August, another test center has also been in operation at Hamburg Airport.
Most recently, the testing capacity at the test center at Frankfurt has been expanded and the sampling area has been enlarged to provide a convenient option for travelers. The test center in Frankfurt now has a capacity of around 10,000 tests per day, which is more than sufficient even at times of high demand. On average, around 4,500 tests per day were carried out in the summer months of July and August. The CENTOGENE service complements the existing public laboratory capacities of the health care system and relieves them.
Lufthansa Group passengers can now also use the fast lane at the CENTOGENE test center at Frankfurt Airport and thus keep waiting times to a minimum. Special fast lanes are also available for Lufthansa Group status customers, business and first class travellers.
"It is correct that the testing strategy for travellers from high-risk countries will be maintained in September. Instead of abolishing the tests from October and dismantling the successfully established testing infrastructure at airports, the existing testing capacities should be further expanded and used even more extensively. The data obtained from the tests can make a significant contribution to reacting to the current infection situation with targeted and appropriate measures. The cooperation between Lufthansa and CENTOGENE, which is continuously expanding its capacities, serves as a benchmark for a successful test model here," says Christina Foerster, Lufthansa Group Customer, IT & Corporate Responsibility Board Member.
Dr. Volkmar Weckesser, CIO CENTOGENE, emphasizes: "We firmly believe that broad-based testing is the key to preventing a further outbreak and supporting a new normal – especially where mobility is an essential contribution to the efficiency of our economy. This is why we have introduced efficient, digital workflows for COVID-19 testing at two of Germany's largest airports. We are absolutely convinced that this decision is correct and will therefore continue to significantly increase our testing capacities. In this way, we can make an important contribution to the testing infrastructure – also for medical personnel or the population in the region. Above all, thanks to the latest technology and innovation, we are also working intensively on new, faster test methods.
Passengers can perform the test in a sample collection center in the immediate vicinity of the main terminal of Frankfurt Airport. All results are made available to passengers via a secure digital platform and linked to the flight ticket to ensure automated confirmation for travelers flying to countries with respective entry restrictions. In addition, passengers can choose an identity confirmation service that certifies authorities that the test results match the passengers' identity.
CENTOGENE engages in diagnosis and research around rare diseases transforming real-world clinical and genetic data into actionable information for patients, physicians, and pharmaceutical companies. Our goal is to bring rationality to treatment decisions and to accelerate the development of new orphan drugs by using our extensive rare disease knowledge, including epidemiological and clinical data, as well as innovative biomarkers. CENTOGENE has developed a global proprietary rare disease platform based on our real-world data repository with approximately 3.0 billion weighted data points from over 530,000 patients representing over 120 different countries as of March 31, 2020.
The Company’s platform includes epidemiologic, phenotypic, and genetic data that reflects a global population, and also a biobank of these patients’ blood samples. CENTOGENE believes this represents the only platform that comprehensively analyzes multi-level data to improve the understanding of rare hereditary diseases, which can aid in the identification of patients and improve our pharmaceutical partners’ ability to bring orphan drugs to the market. As of March 31, 2020, the Company collaborated with 39 pharmaceutical partners covering over 45 different rare diseases.