Sit Spain
Sit Spain

The commercialization of COVID self-diagnosis tests in pharmacies begins.

Useful for mass screening and to avoid collapse in health centers.

The arrival of the fifth wave of Coronavirus has led to the authorization of the sale of COVID self-diagnosis tests in pharmacies without a prescription. The need to avoid the collapse of health centers with the skyrocketing incidence in Spain, especially among young people, has led the Health Department to allow these self-tests. However, the question that many are asking themselves is, will they be useful to be able to travel?

The Health Authorization to allow the sale without a prescription in pharmacies of the covid self-diagnosis tests -antigen and antibody tests- entails the obligation for people who test positive to confirm the result by means of a PCR.

According to what was agreed with the Autonomous Communities this week, those who test positive for COVID with a self-diagnostic test sold in pharmacies will have to undergo a PCR. However, Health has not given any further explanation. Therefore, if it is not even known how the results of home tests will be recorded, it does not seem likely that they will be useful for travel.

What diagnostic self-tests will be sold in pharmacies?

Antibody tests, which report whether you have had the disease before, and antigen tests, which report whether you currently have the disease, will be available over the counter. The problem with these tests is that they give false negatives. Experts point out that they are very useful in mass screening and in the first six or seven days after infection, especially in the first five days if there are symptoms, which is when the body carries the highest viral load.

At present, the authorities allow antigen tests for certain types of travel, always carried out in laboratories. However, they must meet certain technical characteristics: a specificity or ability to recognize the absence of the marker linked to the disease of 97%, and sensitivity, which is the ability to detect the presence of that marker, must be 90%.