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PCR tests for re­search proj­ect

The Chair of Medical Physics at TU Dort­mund Uni­ver­sity is conducting a re­search proj­ect in the Winter semester 2021/22 to identify undetected infections with the co­ro­na­virus on campus. For this purpose, samples from volunteers (vaccinated or unvaccinated) will be analyzed using a particularly rapid PCR test. The proj­ect is carried out in cooperation with ThermoFisher Scientific.

For more in­for­mation, please visit the website of the Chair of Medical Physics.

The quality of the study as well as the protection on campus increases with the number of those who participate. The optimum would be if everyone participated. Not only employees and students of TU Dort­mund Uni­ver­sity can participate and donate samples, but also their family mem­bers. Their vaccination status is irrelevant.

The sample is collected in form of gargled water. To do this, you first need to pick up two screw-top and reusable 15ml tubes. These are available at the following locations in the physics building: in the foyer at the sample collection point (as well as from 4-22 October at the check-in point) and at the Chair of Medical Physics (P2-03-512a).

For the sample, gargle with water at home right after getting up in the morning and bring it to campus in a tube. The samples can be handed in on Mondays to Thursdays between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the foyer of the physics building. To do so, fill the gargle from a sample tube into a numbered collection container. The number of the collection container can later be used to view the results of the collection sample anonymously on­line. The second sample is kept in case a positive result of the composite sample requires an analysis of the individual samples.

Participating groups that collect their samples themselves can drop their bulk sample(s) directly into a box at the Chair of Medical Physics (P2-03-503) anytime from Monday morning to Thursday noon.

For more info on how to drop off samples, please visit the Chair of Medical Physics website.

A sample can be submitted twice a week. It is recommended to hand in the first sample on the first day of the working week and the second sample on the next but one day (i.e. Mon/Wed, possibly Tue/Thu).

It is best to take the sample at home in the morning immediately after getting up, as you should not have drunk or eaten anything for two hours beforehand. You gargle with about 5 ml of tap water for 30-60 seconds and then divide the gargle sample between the two tubes. One sample is given away and the other tube is kept in case a composite sample is positive and individual samples need to be analyzed. The tubes are reusable; they should be cleaned with clear water only, as soap residue will interfere with the analysis.

Instructions for sample collection can be found here: http://med-bio.physik.tu-dortmund.de/cms/Medienpool/PDFs/Covid-Study/Gurgelprobe.pdf

Up to ten samples are analyzed together as a "pool" to make the analysis as efficient as possible. The analysis method is a PCR test which is very sensitive and at the same time particularly fast.

When you submit your sample, you must remember the number of the collection vessel to which you have added your gargle sample. Under the following link, you can then usually view the result on­line and anonymously in the evening of the respective day: http://med-bio.physik.tu-dortmund.de/cms/de/home/COVID-19/COVID-Teststudie/Aktuelle-Er­geb­nisse/index.html.

A positive result means that at least one of the samples in the pooled sample was positive. In this case, the second sample tube with gargle must be labeled with a self-selected abbreviation and placed in a zip bag in the box at the Chair of Medical Physics (P2-03-503). The samples are then analyzed individually and the results are published on­line and anonymously as soon as possible.

If the individual sample is ne­ga­ti­ve, the all-clear is given. If it is positive, you must quarantine yourself. Please then contact the Dort­mund Public Health Department to have a PCR test done as a control. If you do a self-test at home after a positive PCR test as validation, you run the risk of getting a false ne­ga­ti­ve result, as these tests are quite insensitive compared to a PCR test.

The gargle samples used here allow a great simplification of the procedure: On the one hand, the sample collection can be done without sterile material and without supervising personnel at home. On the other hand, no washing out of cotton swabs is required in the laboratory. Thanks to the cooperation with ThermoFisher Scientific, the analysis can be performed in the laboratory of the Chair of Medical Physics and does not have to be carried out by the Clinical Center Dort­mund (Klinikum Dort­mund), as that was the case in the Summer semester of 2021.

The analyses are implemented anonymously and are designed for re­search purposes; they are not personalized diagnostics. For this reason, no 3G proof can be issued.

The purpose of the re­search proj­ect is to observe the movement of the virus on campus and to study how the virus reaches and leaves the campus. This is particularly im­por­tant in a vaccinated population. The purpose is to identify previously undetected infections on campus in order to interrupt potential chains of infection early and contain any spread of the co­ro­na­virus. It serves as an additional protective measure alongside the 3G rule and known hygiene rules such as mandatory masks and ventilation. The findings from this study are going to be published.

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