The University of Göttingen is still in a phase of limited attendance onsite and events attended in person are only permitted in exceptional cases. In order to ensure their safety, students and employees can regularly and voluntarily be tested for SARS-CoV-2 in the Mensa Italia and at the North Campus using a PCR test. Since the Campus Covid Screen (CCS) project started its pilot and then moved into regular operation in November 2020, a total of around 23,000 tests have taken place. Of these, only 16 were positive, which corresponds to a rate of 0.07 per cent.
Dr Valérie Schüller, Acting President of the University, offers thanks to all partners and sponsors of the project for their support. "Very special thanks go to the company Sartorius for a donation of 100,000 euros and the Universitätsbund Göttingen, which has supported the project and the Alumni Göttingen fundraising campaign with a sum of 30,000 euros by matching every other amount donated," says Schüller. "The regular testing options for all students and employees help us to better assess the risks during events in person on campus, and at the same time help to contain the course of the pandemic throughout the City."
The CCS was developed in cooperation with the Institute for Medical Microbiology at the University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the Göttingen Max Planck Institutes for Experimental Medicine, for Biophysical Chemistry and for Dynamics and Self-Organisation. "I am delighted that the service has been so well received," says Professor Reinhard Jahn, who initiated the project last year during his term as President of the University of Göttingen. "The commitment and support of our partners at the Göttingen Campus from the very beginning are a good example of the outstanding scientific collaboration that is possible at a location like Göttingen."
If you want to be tested, you have to register online for an appointment. No nasopharyngeal swab is needed to take the sample, but a much simpler and less unpleasant test using a saliva sample taken with a sort of cotton swab in the mouth. "The advantages of CCS are because there is no need for direct contact between those being tested and the staff responsible for the tests. This means that, in contrast to commonly used throat swabs, no medical staff are required and the collection of the sample is completely painless," explains Dr Fritz Benseler from the Max Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine, where the samples are pooled and analysed using PCR.
Negative results are communicated to those tested by email, positive results have to be confirmed working with the Institute of Medical Microbiology and Virology of the UMG and – if the positive result is confirmed – also reported to the public health department. "It is satisfying to see that SARS-CoV-2 has so far only rarely been detectable in those tested and that young people apparently do not appear to pose a major risk of infection in the region," says Professor Uwe Groß, Director of the Institute of Medical Microbiology and Virology. "In addition, we have also recently been testing to find out whether the corona mutants can be detected by the CCS project."
Participation in the Coronavirus testing is not a prerequisite for admission to university events, nor does it release anyone from requirements of the Göttingen Gesundheitsamt (local health department). Further information and the registration form can be found at www.uni-goettingen.de/campus-covid-screen , the donation form is at https://www.alumni-goettingen.de/news/real-encounters-und-ndash-help-students-have-a-proper-semester/.