Spain to start rolling out rapid Covid-19 antibody tests in pharmacies

Rapid Covid-19 antibody tests have now started to arrive in pharmacies in Spain.

Spain to start rolling out rapid Covid-19 antibody tests in pharmacies
Fernando Zhiminaicela/Pixabay

The tests check and see if a person has antibodies against the virus and are considered to be 90 percent effective, reports La Sexta.

They can determine if someone has had the virus without knowing or without having had a positive PCR test.

The test is simple and only requires a finger prick and drop of blood to work. Results of the test can be shown in just 10 minutes.

The tests have been validated by the EU and also have the approval of the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS).  

500,000 of these rapid tests will be distributed to 22,000 pharmacies across Spain, after the Puente de Constitución ends on Tuesday December 8th.

The effectiveness of the test is high and should be carried out under medical supervision to control traceability of those who test positive. The estimated cost of each test will be €25.

While pharmacies will now be able to carry out these rapid tests to check for antibodies, they are still requesting permission to carry out rapid antigen tests as well.

Rapid antigen tests show whether a person suffering from Covid-19 symptoms has the virus or not, not just if they have the antibodies and have recovered. The result of these can be obtained in just 15 minutes.

These however are not as reliable as the PCR tests, which are also good for catching asymptotic people.

Communities across Spain, such as those in Madrid have asked the Government for permission to carry out the rapid antigen tests too, in order to allow for better control of the virus.

The Minister for Health in Madrid Enrique Ruiz-Escuerdo said that there needs to be a detailed strategy for carrying antigen tests in pharmacies before they are approved.



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Health experts advise end of masks on public transport in Spain

Spanish health experts have advised the government that the use of masks should no longer be obligatory on public transport, but no concrete date has yet been set.

Health experts advise end of masks on public transport in Spain

Health experts who advise the Spanish Ministry of Health have said that masks should no longer be mandatory on public transport, but with the caveat that the government should first wait and observe the epidemiological situation in China, which has experienced a surge in case numbers since it abandoned its strict ‘Zero Covid’ strategy at the end of 2022, following widespread civil unrest.

The use of masks on public transport has now been the norm in Spain for almost three years, since the start of the pandemic. 

Speaking to Ser Canarias, Darias said: “We are getting closer and closer [to the end of having to wear a mask], but we will have to see how things evolve in order to make that decision; obviously the epidemiological situation is getting better and better, but we have to see how the issue of China evolves”. 

Reports in the Spanish press suggest some kind of agreement was made during a meeting between the government and the experts in December that masks would no longer be compulsory after assessing the situation in China, however, there is still no fixed date.

Back in October 2022, Spain’s ‘Emergency Unit’ suggested that mask rules would not be reviewed until March 2023 at the earliest, but more recently it said that it does not seem necessary to wait for March to remove the mask rule. 

According to recent Ministry of Health figures, just 2.79 percent of hospital beds in Spain are taken up by Covid-19 patients.

READ ALSO: Face masks to remain mandatory on public transport in Spain until March 2023

The use of masks indoors in Spain ceased to be mandatory on April 20th, 2022, after almost two years, however, they have remained mandatory in hospitals, pharmacies and, crucially, also on buses, metro, trains, planes and taxis.

While the mask rules have been strictly enforced in some places in Spain such as Seville and Valencia, in other cities such as Barcelona, many people refuse to wear them, despite the regulations still officially being in place. 

READ ALSO: Spain now requires Covid certificates for arrivals from China

In China, figures suggest that almost 60,000 people have died as a result of Covid-19 in a single month amid the spike in cases following the end of the country’s draconian restrictions. In response, Spain reintroduced health control checks for travellers arriving from China. 

It seems that Darias and the Spanish government are waiting to see how the situation plays out in China first, but all the indications and expert advice seems to suggest that masks will no longer be mandatory in public transport sometime very soon.