Monday, October 25

Is there a formula that guarantees a safe Christmas with the family?

In most families, these days they don’t talk about anything else. The illusion to get together after such a long time is mixed with the news of the worsening of the figures, the not very optimistic recommendations… and comes the concern, doubts and not knowing what to do.

That is why in many families, the possible magic formula to get together safely has become a topic of constant conversation and insistent search for solutions. Because everyone dreams of getting together on these dates, but at the same time everyone knows that the really important thing is that we can get together many more times.

And for that, the recommendation of Dr. Julián Domínguez, preventivist and member of the Spanish Society of Preventive Medicine, Public Health and Hygiene, is summed up in one sentence: “whoever wants to spend these dates as if it were a normal Christmas, is fooling himself. This Christmas is not going to be the norml”.


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And although later you can read all the advice put on the table by this prestigious specialist, the truth is that in the search for the magic formula we find a barrage of offers for testing of coronavirus with all the comforts, which could theoretically guarantee the safety of our loved ones.

How many types are there? Where can I buy them? When will I get the results? Do you really give me guarantees?

In the opinion of Dr. Julián Domínguez, to have guarantees, these tests should be accompanied by 14 days of quarantine before the family reunion. “That would be the only way to ensure 100% that we are free of coronavirus and we are not going to put our family members at risk.”

But let’s go with the offers that are presented to us.

What types of Covid tests can I do without leaving home?

At home we can perform any of the tests Diagnostic tests that currently exist to detect coronavirus: PCR, antigens and serologicals.

Serological tests detect if the infection has already passed and if there are antibodies against the coronavirus, using a blood sample. It is the analysis that would really tell us, quite reliably, that people who have antibodies are neither contagious nor contagious, although there is no absolute certainty.

It may interest you: ‘If the serological test says that I have antibodies, are I no longer contagious or do they infect me?’

He antigen test detects the presence of virus proteins in the sample taken by means of a swab from the nose and mouth, or in a saliva sample. They are rapid tests AND quite reliable, but their sensitivity and specificity does not reach what we achieve with PCR tests.

CRP is considered the most reliable diagnostic test since it is very sensible when it comes to detecting the virus in our body, and it is very specific, do not confuse virus in identification.

How are the tests performed at home?

exist several possibilities on how to take samples at home. There are companies that offer the transfer of a healthcare professional to obtain nasopharyngeal samples and perform a PCR or antigen test.

Once the sample is obtained, it is transferred to a laboratory for study and obtaining results.

When it comes to serology tests that require a blood sample, there are two options. A health worker can go to the home to extract it and later take it to a laboratory for examination.

Another formula, not so demonstrably reliable, is the Diagnostic kits that can be purchased that include all the necessary items for the extraction of a couple of drops of blood, as well as the reagents that will determine if there is the presence of antibodies against the coronavirus.

As to saliva tests, which have already been authorized in the US by the FDA, it is the patient himself who collects the sample, which he places in containers prepared for this purpose. With the saliva already ready for shipment, these kits include a collection service to transport it to a laboratory where the antigen test will be performed from the saliva.

Important! To carry out this type of saliva tests do not eat, drink, smoke, chew gum or suck on hard candy for at least 30 minutes before to do it.

How long will it take to get the results?

Times vary depending on the type of test performed. In the case of PCR we will know if we are infected or not in question 24 to 48 hours.

In the antigen testing, including saliva, the time to obtain results oscillates between 15 minutes of rapid tests, up to 24 hours.

The serological test They are the ones that offer the fastest results. In just 10 to 20 minutes we can know if we have overcome the infection or not.

Can I have them done at my primary care center?

In general, and although each autonomous community follows its own protocol, Social Security does not carry out diagnostic tests at home coronavirus, except in special cases of highly dependent people or in extraordinary circumstances.

The tests carried out by public health are mostly PCR, when there are symptoms of contagion, or when the patient is going to undergo some type of specific treatment, such as surgery, for example.

In some autonomous communities, screened among the population with massive antigen test in areas where high transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is detected.
So home tests must be purchased by the patient from clinics or pharmaceutical companies.

How much do these tests cost?

As with the times to obtain the results, the prices depend on the type of test.

The kits de PCR at home where the sample is collected by the patient himself, they range between 100 and 130 euros. In the event that a toilet travels home, the price rises above 160 euros.

The rapid saliva antigen test is around 40 euros, while the most complete tests amount to 130 euros.

The cheapest are serological test, which can be made from about 25 euros.

If I test negative, am I safe from danger?

Faced with this wide range of diagnostic tests, now the question that many may ask is, if I take a test, can I meet with my family to celebrate Christmas without fear of the coronavirus? The answer to this question includes many nuances.

Rapid antibody or serological tests are tests similar to those of pregnancy, which with a single finger prick and after a few minutes reveal to us if we have coronavirus antibodies.

But as Dr. Julián Domínguez, a preventive specialist and member of the Spanish Society of Preventive Medicine, Public Health and Hygiene points out, the problem with these tests lies in the interpretation of the data they provide.

“If when carrying out the test using a rapid antibody test, it detects the presence of immunity, we should not trust ourselves, since that immunity should be confirmed by high throughput serology, that is to say, carried out in the laboratory with more advanced techniques ”.

Thus, the results of a rapid serology test should always be interpreted by a doctor and confirmed by them. The reason? These types of tests do not have as great a sensitivity and reliability as those carried out in laboratories and we run the risk that they may cause a false sense of security.

Another option to detect the presence of the coronavirus at home is PCR, a safer and more reliable test than the antibody test. But the specialist in preventive medicine raises some questions regarding its use in order to celebrate the holidays

“When would we get tested? For Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas lunch? The days before each of the celebrations? 24 hours before or 72? “

The same goes for testing both saliva and nasopharyngeal antigens. “Why do I get tested? To comply with the measures or because I know that I will not comply with them? ” asks the doctor.

It is important not to get carried away by the feeling of false security. We can do a PCR, test negative … but the next day we come into contact with a person infected by SARS-CoV-2 and become infected ”, insists the preventivist.

For this reason, Dr. Domínguez is categorical in stating that “a negative PCR or a negative antigen test does not mean forgetting all protective measures against coronavirus”. During Christmas lunches and dinners that we share with non-cohabitants it is it is essential to keep safe distances, ventilate correctly, do not forget about hand hygiene.

It may interest you: ‘Guide on how to ventilate school classrooms, offices and houses, to reduce coronavirus infections’

And it is also very important to use the mask correctly, that is, to remove it only when we are eating or drinking, “the rest of the time we must stay with it on,” the doctor warns.

In any case, from the Spanish Society of Preventive Medicine, the fundamental summary of the guidelines to follow to spend Christmas without risk of contagion by coronavirus is reduced to a single sentence: “Meet with as few people as possible, and that these people are cohabiting”.

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