Updated: Monday, December 7, 2020 2:45 PM

Published on: 07/12/2020 14:28

Rapid antibody tests are already arriving in pharmacies and promise to revolutionize the diagnosis of the disease. Today the distribution begins and pharmacies can request them: for the moment they can only be obtained on medical prescription and each establishment will have two units per day, at a price of 25 euros each.

From this Monday, pharmacies can already order their tests, although the December bridge is slowing the implementation of these self-diagnostic tests. But even if nationwide distribution begins, not all pharmacies have been notified and are not willing to apply.

This is the case of the Ugarte Arana pharmacy, a central location in Bilbao: “We are not going to ask for them. A representative contacted us saying that he already had them. The logical thing is that the Pharmaceutical College us. gives an explanation, not just a representative Let’s say you have them already and now, ”they explain in a conversation with laSexta.

These tests are 90% effective and are performed by the users themselves. The kit consists of a lancet to extract the blood, as in a glucose test, and later put it on the plate with the reagents that will tell us whether we have passed the disease or not. This will detect whether we have immunoglobin M (IgM), which indicates antibodies from a recent infection, or immunoglobin G (IgG), which indicates having been infected with COVID-19 for a longer time.

According to Francisco Javier Encinas of the Tanners’ Pharmacy in Madrid, since Monday, suppliers have been allowed to market these tests, but they still do not have them.

“We have already ordered them and they will arrive on Wednesday. They are limited to two per establishment and per day, they will arrive by dropper. There are 500,000 tests to distribute to 22,000 pharmacies, ”explains Encinas.

Faster and cheaper

The two pharmacies, the first line of healthcare and user consultation, confirm the interest of citizens in these tests, even if this is not a novelty. “There is a demand, they have been asking for months. These tests give a result in 15 minutes and cost around 15 euros, compared to PCR tests which can be done in private and are much more expensive,” says Encinas as the ‘one of the reasons.

“There are communities that you cannot enter without having taken a test. It would be very useful to have a validated and accessible test ”, specifies the pharmacist.

Although it was announced with great fanfare that from this Monday the self-diagnostic kits would be in circulation, in the Valencian Community and Catalonia, for example, the distribution has not yet started, according to laSexta. In the first, at least until next week, they won’t be available in stores.

Illa: “They are not an absolute passport”

Despite the usefulness of these tests, the Minister of Health urged caution: “The tests are not an absolute safety passport, they are a photo of a certain moment. This does not exempt us from taking security measures, ”said Salvador Illa. this Monday at the press conference to present the public health campaign for Christmas.

The tests also require confirmation from the health authorities and the health center. Although they can only be obtained with a prescription, the result should be notified to doctors. It was explained in “Al Rojo Vivo” by the director of Indagando TV, Graziella Almendral: “To date, it is not regulated that pharmacies notify it, but the users themselves must do so. We must give the result to the center. health so that there is control of the pandemic, it is an urgent notification disease “.

Public health experts criticize the strategy

Public health experts also warn: these tests in themselves are not a panacea, but rather a coordinated strategy is needed by the government and the autonomous communities, with enough information for citizens to make it work. .

For José Martínez Olmos, former secretary general of health and professor at the Andalusian School of Public Health (EASP), “if these antibody tests are positive, they indicate that we have antibodies against the virus, but they do not do not say if they are recent and it would be necessary to confirm with the PCR if it is a recent and active infection to avoid contagion ”, declared the expert in ‘ARV’.

Further, he cautioned against the possibility of these tests giving inconclusive results: “In cases where false negatives come out, we cannot do enough forethought to avoid infecting others.”

Harvard University doctor of public health, Elvis García, was more critical of this strategy: “Testing is generally positive, but if it is a strategy coordinated by government, it is not enough to leave tests to those who want to buy them. It just helps create disparities between who can buy them and those who can’t. “

Not only that, but antibody testing might not be as effective in controlling the pandemic: “By itself, antibody testing doesn’t see much value, for what we need today. It gives you seroprevalence, but it doesn’t tell you if you’re infected. I don’t see the need for it and I wouldn’t throw the bells on the fly. “

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