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Drive-thru COVID-19 Testing at Groupama Arena

Local company Rollet Kft. and its partner DriveCell Systems Zrt. have launched drive-through coronavirus testing at a purpose-built temporary facility at Budapest’s Groupama Arena.

The test being offered tells you whether you have the virus on the day of your visit; it is not an antibody test that would tell you if you have had COVID-19 in the past, as these have proved unreliable.

At the drive-through station, the client is handed a swab in a sealed bag and asked to take a sample from the back of the throat (a slightly uncomfortable process, especially if you have a low gag threshold), before placing it in an airtight container and back in the bag. The process takes about three minutes per person.

That sample is then given a nucleic acid-based PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test that “is currently the officially accepted and most accurate way to detect infection. It detects the presence of the virus, which lasts from after the gestation period until eight-14 days after the virus has been fought off,” Andy Zhang, CEO of Rollet, says.

“This is a test which officials everywhere rely on, but if we see the antibody tests becoming more reliable and we have better data about it, we would like to introduce those.”

Testing is by appointment only (done online via www.tesztallomas.hu), which is how Rollet ensures a minimum waiting time and a streamlined traffic flow, and is performed in the parking area in front of the soccer stadium from Monday to Saturday, between 8 a.m. and noon.

It is recommended patients do not eat, drink, brush their teeth or smoke for at least four hours before the test, which means earlier times are typically busier. The online booking system is in Hungarian only, but most staff at the drive-through station speak some English.

Priority Option

The standard test costs HUF 26,990, with the results delivered within 72 hours. A priority option is available for HUF 36,990, in which case, the customer can come at any time they choose and the results are delivered the next day.

“We set up Rollet two and a half years ago,” says Zhang. “We design technologies and processes for seamless drive-through experiences. When this pandemic came along, we looked at how we could and should help. Looking at international precedents of drive-through testing stations, it is a very effective and efficient way to screen a large amount of people,” he explains.

Rollet then went through its network to find a medical partner, which is where DriveCell Systems comes into the picture. Rollet provides the technology and operational crew, there is a lab that is certified to process large number of samples, as well as a doctor who is resident for the operation.

“With two lanes we are handling up to 100 visitors per day, but we can scale that linearly. We have a team of 6-8 outside on location to take care of all the visitors; we simply want to make sure every single step is well taken care off.”

Zhang says a wide variety of people use the facility, ranging from people who are out and about working and exposed and want to come in on a weekly or biweekly basis, to whole families or households who want to make sure they are fine, to companies who are sending their employees over for a check.

The location is not in a congested zone, but is easy to approach by car; ironically, it is opposite Szent László Hospital, an isolation center for the epidemic. “Groupama offered this location to us for the purpose of supporting the pandemic response as much as possible,” Zhang says.

“We believe that what we have created is well replicable; we are in the process of exploring other needs to have other locations across Hungary. We have also had other governmental organizations approach us looking at what this solution entails and how they can realize this outside of Hungary’s borders. Again, because most of this is just information technology and a very simple process, we believe this can be very quickly replicated elsewhere.”