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Digital Corona Certificate – first round of self-testing (also suddenly for a good reason…)

In the previous post i described why we decided to eat our own dog-food and run some Corona Tests on ourselves, too. Of course the idea is not just the test, but to use our “digital corona certificate” and get a result, that can get verified by a 3rd party.

This Wednesday we did the first tests. We used the self-testing kit from our partner Centogene to perform the tests. They can ship the needed equipment including a manual and some instructional videos (you can even buy the kit on amazon).

Of course we also discussed how to secure freedom of participation for the employees. Besides the fact that the medical result will be shown only to the tested person and no one else, we also tried to put some measures in place to avoid a “social pressure” situation where people would perform the test although they actually would rather not like to do so. In a employer-employee relationship its questionable whether a “freedom of choice” situation can be reached, even if the employer does not see the result and nothing is implemented or planned to actually use the result in some kind of way (e.g. for access control, events etc.). In our brainstorming session the someone brought up the idea how this is handled when people donate blood. At least in germany you get a chance in a fully anonymized way after the blood is taken to say “i don’t want this blood to be used”. A great way to increase quality of blood donations and also secure that people can make their choice without anyone else knowing. We thought this could be a good way to do the corona testing, too. So we reached out to the lab and asked them whether they would be able to implement such a flag in their systems, too. Something where only the tested person has access and can tick a checkbox that says “do not process my sample”. Unfortunately this does not seem feasible at the moment for practical and legal reasons. But as i did the test by myself another solution came to my mind: i could actually just not do the swapping in my throat at all. And then handle back the “probe” and let it be processed by the lab. Of course (accidential contamination aside) the result would then be negative. We think this works quite well as a support to give people freedom of choice – but of course this only works in a self-testing scenario…

Besides that the testing was a mixture of a fun and also weird experience. Registering the probe-id in a web-portal, going to the toilet after watching the self-test video on youtube and then doing the swab in your throat (which is not the most lovely experience…). Weird. But also kind of easy and “new normalish”.

Results came back only 24hrs later via email and through the web-portal. I was tested negative, puh.

Maybe the most important outcome for me from this is: it is easy. Testing is – besides wearing a mask etc. – one of the most powerful means we have at the moment to fight the virus and avoid infections of others. And it is easier and quicker than what i thought.

Next week we will organize the first test-batch with other business colleagues from Startplatz in Cologne, also including another lab that will run some of the tests. And we will be able to show the first real digital Corona Results on the Blockchain.

—— Update ————————

Until a few minutes ago this still felt like an experiment. But then i got a call and the information, that in one of our offices someone got tested positive. Actually not from our team, not our testing. Someone from a partner company. This is real.

Name of author

Name: Stephan Noller

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