Sunday, August 7

Demand for self-diagnostic tests will skyrocket this winter, according to labs


The incessant rise in the incidence of coronavirus cases and the appearance of the new omicron variant in Spain will provoke a new boom in the sale of self-diagnostic antigen tests in the coming days close to Christmas, according to the forecasts made for THE PERIODIC OF SPAIN by consultants, pharmacists and laboratories. Only in summer, in Spain, around 3.5 million units of this type of self-test were sold, which in our country can only be purchased in pharmacies, without prescription and that make it possible to identify suspected positive cases at the time they are carried out. At that time, sales amounted to around € 40 million. A figure that, according to experts, could be reached again.

The first antigen test of self-diagnosis of covid-19 without a prescription arrived at the Spanish pharmacies at the end of last July, in full vacation, by the hand of CINFA laboratory. The test, called “Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Test Card”, allows detecting the presence of an active coronavirus infection and has the European certification to be used by non-professional users. It allows fast and reliable identification of positive cases: it has a sensitivity of 96.77% and a specificity of 99.20%.

Cinfa sources admit to this newspaper that, facing Christmas, the sales figures for this type of rapid test skyrocket, as happened in the summer despite the fact that, now, the percentage of vaccination is much higher than then. The rise in the number of infections and appearance of the omicron variant has come to sow more uncertainty around the advisability of returning to the big meetings. The Ministry of Health itself has advised caution and restrict the number of people in family gatherings.

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Price drop

In this scenario, the sources consulted by this newspaper admit that it is more than foreseeable that the sales of the self-tests will skyrocket again. For now, they do not dare to give specific figures but they do leave a clear aspect: more were sold when the summer holidays began, coinciding with their release on the market, and those sales declined as fall rolled in, vaccination increased and the number of infections decreased with a forecast of glimpsing the beginning of the end of the pandemic that now, again, it seems a scenario not so close. This has meant that the purchase of these tests to detect the virus has increased in recent days in pharmacies, as indicated by workers in this type of establishment.

From the Iqvia consultancy they contribute to THE PERIODIC OF SPAIN an evolution of sales -with the top 5 laboratories according to billing- from July 2021 -which was when the self-tests were just released for free sale in pharmacies- until October of this year. “The most remarkable thing is that during the months of July and August its growth was quite marked due to sale without prescription in pharmacies, but that this growth has been slowing down in the months of September and October “, they indicate. Specifically, compared to the 3.5 million tests sold between July and August, between September and October there were barely 1.5 million tests sold. In economic terms, sales in this second period stood at 11 million euros compared to the 40 registered in the summer period.

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Company sources point out that, with the new wave of cases that has been taking place in november and december, the foreseeable thing is that they will increase their sales again, in the face of the Christmas celebrations and for greater precaution or security. The data will be known in a few weeks. This Thursday, Health has registered 14,500 infections and 42 deaths from covid in the last 24 hours. Cumulative incidence stands at 234.03 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. In addition, there is the appearance of the new variant. The Community of Madrid has confirmed a third case in the positive patient region infected with omicron, the first by community transmission: a 62-year-old man who presents mild symptoms and who is vaccinated with the two doses of AstraZeneca.

Confirm positive cases

In summer, the rapid test was more expensive than now: around 7 euros per unit. Today, they range between 4 and 5 euros. Although in Spain it is only sold in pharmacies, in our environment, for example in Portugal, It can be purchased in supermarket chains. There are nine self-diagnostic tests for antigens authorized by Health: eight with nasal sample and one, with saliva. This type of test allows a rapid diagnosis of the infection in people with a high viral load. The use of the test is aimed at first days of infection and for symptomatic people.

It is important to bear in mind that positive results in these tests are considered suspicious cases that must be confirmed, remember the pharmacists

Self-diagnostic tests have proven to be helpful “as a complement to other methods in pandemic control, by allowing more cases to be detected and, therefore, offering more opportunities to control transmission. Any measure taken to facilitate case detection, should be considered as positive, “he points out to THE PERIODIC OF SPAIN Iván Espada, head of the Drug Information Area of ​​the General Council of Colleges of Pharmacists (CGCOF).

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In any case, Espada reminds that it is important to always bear in mind that positive results in these tests are considered suspicious cases that must be confirmed in a health center using a PCR or other test validated as diagnosis of active infection. Furthermore, it emphasizes that it must always be taken into account that, in the event of a negative result, preventive measures should not be relaxed.

Autotest for free and Madrid

In addition, from the Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU) they remember that this type of test is not valid, for example, to travel. Today, the doctor in Chemical Sciences Margarita del Val I asked from Tenerife that administrations lower the price of antigen tests. “We already have them in the pharmacies but if they are subsidized for a couple of months there will be less pressure on the hospitals,” the scientist assured.

In the Community of Madrid, its president, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, announced this Wednesday that, within the new ‘Covid Plan in the region for Christmas, free self-diagnoses will be facilitated in pharmacies presenting the health card. The community will purchase four million of this type of evidence.


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