Testing and vaccinations

The crisis management team of the University of Bern has closely examined the possibilities and effects of individual testing and mass testing on everyday life at the University and has adapted this concept several times based on the epidemiological situation and the requirements of the federal government and the canton.

Q&A on SARS-CoV2 mass testing

The testing strategy of the University of Bern is based on the framework set by the canton and the federal government. The testing strategy is regularly reviewed and adapted according to the pandemic’s development as well as operational requirements.  It is important to ensure that all tests are of high quality, are methodologically correct, use appropriate procedures, and produce epidemiologically meaningful indications.

The University will offer free PCR testing for students and employees with a Unicard. They can be tested at three different locations in Länggasse (in the front, middle, and back of Länggasse) starting in October at the latest, after the free testing offer of the federal government will have come to an end. Registration must be done in advance at covidtest.unibe.ch, starting on September 23.

Here, the conditions set by the federal government and the canton apply and, as of October 1, also new payment modalities for people with no symptoms. Important: negative antigen tests (rapid tests) performed at test centers, pharmacies and doctors' offices provide a certificate that is valid for only 48 hours.

  • PCR tests: Direct detection of genetic viral material. Can be performed on mucosal swabs or from spit samples. The method is sensitive but expensive. Symptom-free virus carriers can also be identified in this way.
  • Antigen tests: Direct detection of a protein component of the viral material using a swab from the nasal or oral mucosa. The method is less sensitive than PCR tests, but easy to perform. Detection of viral material in asymptomatic individuals is limited. Also referred to as a rapid antigen test or antigen self-test.
  • Rapid antigen tests: refers to antigen tests. The federal government no longer covers all the costs of rapid tests that you have done at a testing centre, at your doctor’s, in a hospital or at a pharmacy.
    There are exceptions:
    • Children and young people under age 16
    • People who cannot be vaccinated on medical grounds (medical certificate required)
    • People visiting healthcare institutions (no Covid test certificate issued)
  • Antigen self-tests: refers to antigen tests. In the following cases you are entitled to obtain 5 tests every 30 days from pharmacies free of charge:
    • You have still not been fully vaccinated.
    • You have still not been infected with the coronavirus.
      You can also buy self-test kits in drugstores and retail outlets. You must pay for self-tests that you buy in drugstores or retail outlets yourself.
  • Mass testing:  Systematic testing of a specific group, can be one-time or repetitive. Both antigen tests and PCR tests are used for this purpose. The testing strategy of the University is based exclusively on PCR tests.
  • Pool or mini-pools in the testing procedure: Saliva samples from 5-8 subjects are pooled simultaneously for PCR testing. Only if this pool test is positive, individual retests are performed on the basis of the stored saliva samples. This procedure is efficient and more cost-effective than individual testing if the pre-test probability is low.

In principle, institutes are allowed to organize and perform tests independently. For these, the following applies: For tests that are carried out on one's own initiative and independently, the respective initiators must also independently bear the procurement, costs, and consequences.

It is also possible to order rapid antigen tests for free via email at gebaeudebetrieb.bt@unibe.ch.

Q&A on vaccinations

As a scientific institution, the University of Bern attaches great importance to people using scientifically proven methods to protect themselves. It takes into account the interests of both the individual and society in its decisions.

As a scientific institution, the University of Bern recommends that all its members are vaccinated. 

If you have any symptoms of a Covid-19 infection or if you have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive, for example in a lecture hall, you should go for a test. Members of the University of Bern can be tested at three locations. You can register for a test using this link: covidtest.unibe.ch.

Anyone who needs a certificate for on-site work can be tested during working hours. However, this regulation does not apply to people with small and very small level of employments, but in principle from a level of employment of 50%.

Yes. The crisis management team recommends, without reservation, vaccination against Covid-19 for all persons 12 years of age and older, including those recovered and pregnant women. Persons over 16 years of age are also recommended to get a “booster” dose starting 6 months after the second vaccination. Only individuals with known allergies to vaccines, which are exceptionally rare, should consider the situation individually with their physician. The pandemic and its local impact can only be ended through high levels of participation in vaccination. The crisis management team appeals to each individual’s responsibility to contribute. The crisis management team also reminds people that there are vulnerable people who, despite being vaccinated, cannot build up sufficient immune protection against the virus because their immune system cannot respond adequately (e.g., people after organ transplants, people on medication for chronic inflammatory diseases, or people with congenital immune deficiencies). The crisis management team is also following with concern developments in hospitals and the strain on staff in intensive care units, who are increasingly absent due to illness or quarantine or who resign. Get vaccinated!

Vaccination is the best and easiest way to obtain a certificate. This allows access to all university courses. However, despite the certificate, the general hygiene rules still apply (distance, hand disinfection) and masks must be worn.

The University has initiated a vaccination program for at-risk individuals with patient contact or contact with biological specimens, which is now complete. However, the in-house physician can assist on an individual basis to organize additional vaccinations for vulnerable and exposed individuals.