If you live in Spain and develop any covid symptoms, or simply want to be sure that you are covid-free before meeting with vulnerable friends and family members, then you will no longer have to visit your doctor in order to secure a self-administered coronavirus test.
From 20th July 2021, the Spanish government has made over-the-counter Covid tests available to everyone in the country from Spanish pharmacies.
Here’s everything you need to know about this new policy, and what it means for you:
The Official Government Announcement
The Spanish government has been placed under pressure to make the coronavirus tests available over-the-counter from pharmacies in order to provide increased awareness of individual’s covid status and create a clearer picture of the current covid status across the country. Spanish pharmacies have had an abundance of self-diagnostic tests in their warehouses that they have been unable to use because of the rules surrounding their use, despite the fact these tests have been widely available across the rest of Europe since last spring.
When Spanish Minister of Health Carolina Darias announced the update, she declared that allowing the public to purchase their tests over the counter will enable “faster identification of suspected positive cases and even asymptomatic cases, as is happening in the population from 12 to 29 years of age and to control the progression of the pandemic in the most effective way possible.” The requirement to secure a prescription in order to obtain these tests has long been considered a barrier, so this is excellent news for the ongoing management of the coronavirus pandemic in Spain.
Which Tests Will Be Available and What Do They Do?
The Spanish government has made two different types of coronavirus test available without a prescription and over the counter from the nation’s pharmacies. These are the antigen test kits and the antibody test kits. Each of these testing kits do something unique and different. The antigen test is designed to detect whether or not you currently have coronavirus, and will give you a result in just 15 minutes, however it is much less reliable than the result you would receive from securing a PCR test. To take the antigen test, you take a sample from your nose and from your throat (via a swab) and the test detects the virus protein (protein S), determining whether or not you have any covid particles.
The antibody test doesn’t tell whether you currently have coronavirus, but instead looks at the levels of antibodies in the blood to determine whether or not you have been in contact with the virus (i.e. whether you have had coronavirus before or not). With this test the results are much faster: you should get a result in under 5 minutes, depending on the brand of test you use. You will get a result for IgM and IgG: the first will appear between 7 and 10 days after you have been in contact with the virus, whilst the second will appear between 10 and 15 days after the virus. This will give you a good idea of whether you have been exposed to the virus, though you should remember that your viral load will be harder to detect in the first days after you are in contact with the virus. This test also won’t tell if you are still infected with the virus, or whether it’s ongoing.
How Much Will the Tests Be?
The Spanish government is yet to publish official prices for the two types of available test, but to give you an idea of what they might cost, here are some examples of prices in other European countries:
- In Portugal the tests costs between 7 and 10 euros, depending on which pharmacy you visit
- In France, the prices have been fixed by the government which each test costing 5.20 euros.
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