Dubious corona tests: to a certified specialist in 15 minutes


Status: October 18, 2021 8:48 a.m.

For ten euros, training to become a certified specialist who issues negative Corona certificates within a few minutes – that is what online providers promise. A questionable offer, as a self-test shows.

By Wulf Rohwedder, tagesschau.de

The video lasts just under twelve minutes, shows basic hygiene measures and the use of the three types for corona self-tests.

If you want to watch it online, you pay ten euros for it – and after you have played it, you will receive the message that you have successfully participated in an online training course on how to perform Sars-CoV-2 rapid antigen tests. This means that you now have the appropriate expertise to carry out Sars-CoV-2 rapid antigen tests.

Playing the video is enough to achieve the status of “specialist”.

By playing a video to the “specialist”

Whether the video has actually been viewed and the content internalized is not tested – playback only stops when you open another window on the computer. Nevertheless, the owner can issue certificates for negative corona tests in the future:

With Test-Express you can create 3G corona test certificates yourself at any time. You will be appointed by us as a “specialist” and can thus “supervise” self-tests.

The certificate is automatically issued as soon as the video is played.

This is what it says on the provider’s website. It remains to be seen whether the quotation marks are meant ironically or possibly protect against legal prosecution. The warning at the end of the training video sounds almost cynical:

Please be aware of your responsibility at all times: We want Corona to no longer be a threat at some point. The more carefully we deal with the topic, the faster it will succeed.

The “Test-Express” training video has only been online for a few days. The website had previously referred to an offer from Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe – without obtaining the association’s approval. The organization then asked the operator to stop.

No real identity control

There is also no check as to whether the participant has acquired the necessary knowledge and can reproduce it, not even the identity of the “competent express tester” is verified. Markus Bönig, managing director of the operator CliniGo GmbH, sees no problem in this: “Every user has to identify himself with us with his address, mobile phone number and email address.” A check with an identity card number has so far been dispensed with because the identity of the tester was sufficiently secured for the company, he explains tagesschau.de.

Almost 35,000 people have currently registered with us with their certificate of expertise, says Bönig. “Nobody can create a certificate for themselves. An adult citizen checks the performance of a self-test by another person and confirms the result,” he said tagesschau.de. “I therefore think that with the focus on only people with a certificate of qualification being able to register, we will even increase the quality level enormously.”

A test certificate from “Antje W. Alross”

An attempt by tagesschau.de showed, however, that an e-mail address from an anonymous provider with a fictitious identity is sufficient to be certified and registered with “Test-Express” as a “specialist”. So “Antje W. Alross” was also able to issue certificates for allegedly negative corona tests on real people on the portal.

Provider cashes in with every test

With the end of the free Corona rapid tests, “Test-Express” and a number of other providers have discovered a niche in the market – and the opportunity for profits. In order to receive confirmation of a negative test, the person tested must also open an account with “Test Express” and have the tester confirm the test result. For a fee of 1.99 euros, the certificate will be sent to the specified email address and mobile phone number. Those who want to use the service more often receive a volume discount.

Medical lawyers consider evidence to be worthless

The proof is “recognized everywhere” and corresponds to “the proof guidelines of the Federal Ministry of Health and the Robert Koch Institute”, claims the provider. Jens Prütting, professor of civil law, medical and health law at the Bucerius Law School in Hamburg, on the other hand, does not believe that the test certificates issued via the CliniGo GmbH portal are valid. According to the current regulations, the test must take place on site under the supervision of the company and can only then be certified by a valid test certificate from the specialist, he explains at the request of tagesschau.de.

A self-test can be carried out under the supervision of a restaurant employee when visiting a restaurant, for example, and the restaurant can be visited if the test result is negative. In that case, however, it is by no means irrelevant where the test is to be carried out and what the test is to be used for. “Such proof is only valid at the place where the testing was supervised,” says Prütting. “Such an offer contradicts the will of the Federal Ministry of Health and the clear wording ‘on site under supervision'”, warns Prütting.

This is also the opinion of Alexander Ehlers, specialist lawyer for medical law and specialist in general medicine: “Apart from the fact that the requirements for the provider of tests are not met, such a certificate would not be usable everywhere,” he explains tagesschau.de. Such “one-way certificates” only allow entry to the location that carried out the testing. “Even if the certificate were valid, you would only be able to enter CliniGo with it.”

No universal validity

Such a test certificate may then not be used in other 3G contexts, as is promised for the certificates on the “Test-Express” website. “CliniGo GmbH is neither a competent authority of the public health service nor one of the test centers operated by them,” warns Prütting. A specific commissioning of CliniGo GmbH by the public health service, from which their authorization to certify the specialist can be derived, is not mentioned by the operator of the website.

Markus Bönig, managing director of CiniGo GmbH, which operates the “Test-Express” portal, contradicts this tagesschau.de: “35,000 specialists monitor self-tests on site and under supervision.” You are not a competent body of the public health service, but a service provider. “Of course, we also took legal advice in advance and are of the opinion that we are acting correctly.”

Certification as “specialist” doubtful

Even the information that the tester can prove training with the certificate issued by “Test-Express” does not meet the legal requirements, says medical lawyer Prütting. A mere training, as it is offered there, is not to be equated with an assignment. “If there is no separate express order, the CliniGo GmbH lacks the legal basis to be able to issue test certificates. The certificates for the negative test results would not be valid for the consumer when presented and therefore pointless.”

Legal consequences difficult to assess

What can happen to a person who presents a “Test-Express” certificate? The question is difficult to answer, says medical lawyer Ehlers tagesschau.de: “If only the test is certified, or if you only get tested, it is very unlikely that there is a verifiable criminal offense. However, only if the test is also correctly certified.”

There is also no forgery or the issuance of incorrect health certificates: “For this it would be necessary that the testing person is a doctor or is medically approved or pretends to be”, explains Ehlers. For fraud, a person must always suffer financial loss – “if there is no money, there is no damage.”

The users of a certificate from “Test-Express” are difficult to punish under criminal and civil law, says medical lawyer Ehlers – even if it is not allowed to be used in most places.

Image: Ehlers, Ehlers & Partner

If a corona test is carried out incorrectly, negligent bodily harm can theoretically be considered. In practice, however, it is very difficult to prove that an infection can be traced back to the inadequate smear collection, says Ehlers. A falsification of documents is also not submitted if the testing person gives their name and CliniGo on the certificate – and not, for example, a ‘correct’ test center. “If the document contains a ‘lie’, it does not become unauthorized,” says Ehlers. “This can only lead to criminal liability in the case of public officials.”

Managing Director Member of the “Basis”

CliniGo managing director Bönig has, according to his own statements, joined the “Die Basis” party, which sharply criticizes the measures against the corona pandemic, and is currently a passive member without a function. In the summer he was at the center of a political dispute in the party: The Bundestag candidates Reiner Füllmich, Viviane Fischer, Martin Schwab and Wolfgang Wodarg accused him, among other things, of behaving in a party-damaging manner, exceeding competencies and “promoting Microsoft’s health data collection” .

In addition, the party expressed the suspicion that Bönig wanted to enrich himself with the Corona measures – but this does not prevent supporters from making his offer – motto: “Test each other freely!” – to apply.

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