Zug, 21.10.2021

Karin Bieri is collecting money for cheaper corona tests

Going to do some training? An evening out? Going to the university? A corona test should be available to young people for a maximum of five Swiss francs, believes Karin Bieri from Cham. That's why she's looking for sponsors to help offer discounted tests. Apparently with success: for a cost of CHF 10,000, unvaccinated young people were tested for a week .

Karin Bieri is nervous when she appears for the interview - the matter is very important to her. A matter of the heart. And in their reports about resistance or scepticism with regard to the corona measures, the media have repeatedly published exaggerated statements, creating a false impression of the facts. That’s why Karin Bieri expressly asks that nothing should be published that is wrong or ill-considered.

Monday afternoon, sunshine. In the centre of Steinhausen, the bars are either closed or the terraces are absolutely full. But Karin Bieri can't go in: "I find this two-class society to be a very dangerous development, which has resulted from the certificate requirement," she says in the conversation that takes place while walking outside.

Discounted test for persons up to 25 years of age
The reason for the walk is the "Aktion Unternehmer für die Jugend" (Entrepreneurs for Youth Campaign) – a fundraising campaign initiated by Bieri, supported by business, trade and private individuals, and promoted by medical practices and pharmacies in the cantons of Zug, Lucerne and Schwyz: Unvaccinated people, from the age of 16 to 25, and those attending educational courses, should be able to be tested for the corona virus practically free of charge; should receive a Covid certificate for a symbolic contribution of two to five francs and thereby be allowed to participate in social life as fully as possible.

Karin Bieri says: "We know that young people are far less affected by the corona infection than older people or patients who are at risk. Nevertheless, they have also suffered from the beginning of the pandemic, carrying the burden of Corona on their shoulders."

The fact that the federal governmentno longer pays for corona tests from October 11 (if you are over 16 years old, have no symptoms and have not been called by contact tracing), but at the same time effectively links participation in social life to the Covid certificate, has gone too far for the mother of an 18-year-old daughter:

"Young people must be able to go out, do some fitness training and complete their education without any restrictions, even if they’re not vaccinated."

The fact that unvaccinated young people have to pay for corona tests themselves makes their development and education dependent on the financial situation of their parents. "That's the wrong way to do things," says Karin Bieri.

Companies support "liberal ideas"
Bieri is not alone in her attitude. Although she doesn’t want to talk about figures in detail, nor does she want to reveal which companies are supporting the campaign. However, she does say that, in the first week alone, her campaign has made tests available to the value of CHF 10,000.

The price per test varies. A rapid antigen test, for example, costs CHF 47 from the Amavita pharmacy in Zug. But it’s only CHF 25 per adult at the Urs Drogerie in Steinhausen – and only CHF 2.00 for young people up to the age of 25. The Urs Drogerie is the only pharmacy in Zug that is participating in Bieri's campaign. A psychiatrist offers discounted tests in Hitzkirch (LU), and offers are planned in Buttisholz and Dierikon (both in canton Lucerne), according to Bieri. And from 20 October, a test centre in Unterägeri is to be added, according to the website of Bieri's communications company, under whose patronage the campaign is running.

Karin Bieri in front of the Urs Drogerie in Steinhausen, which is currently the only pharmacy in the canton of Zug taking part in the test campaign.
Photo: Maria Schmid

Founded in April, the aim of the sole-proprietor company MB KommNet Management is "direct communication and close networking between people in order to cultivate the right to freedom of expression", as stated on its website. Although the network is apolitical, it represents a liberal idea, and now includes several hundred entrepreneurs who advocate the "liberal values of Switzerland". Bieri recommends the "Weltwoche", the "Nebelspalter" or the portal "Die Ostschweiz" for further reading. Michael Bubendorf, the media spokesman of the "Freunde der Verfassung” (Friends of the Constitution), the satirist Andreas Thiel and comedian Marco Rima, who have publicly positioned themselves against the corona measures, have appeared at the company's events. And Matthias Gauger– the family doctor from Muotathal who became known to a wider public by refusing to vaccinate his patients against the corona virus – now offers corona tests arising from Bieri's campaign at three locations in the canton of Schwyz.

Encouragement and praise from all over German-speaking Switzerland
Is she a sceptic of corona measures? "To a certain extent, yes," says Karin Bieri, a former medical practice assistant, during the walk in Steinhausen. From her point of view, the vaccination target has been achieved. Anyone who has not been vaccinated so far does not want to be vaccinated, and this must be respected. Anything else amounts to compulsory vaccination, which is incompatible with her values. When asked, Bieri says she has no political ambitions, is earning nothing from the test campaign, and is working on a voluntary basis:

"I’m really only do this for the young people."

She has received a lot of encouragement for this. People from all over German-speaking Switzerland have contacted her and thanked her for her commitment. And this is another reason why the "Entrepreneurs for Youth Campaign" should be expanded. Following the establishment of locations in Steinhausen, Hitzkirch, Muotathal, Ibach and Steinen, Bieri is in talks with other medical practices and pharmacies, for example in St.Gallen, Basel Land and Graubünden (Grisons). Bieri: "Many of them want to participate, which makes me very happy. But the greater the demand for tests, the more money we will need."