Spain approves sale of antigen self-tests in pharmacies
No prescription required for rapid Covid-19 screening
Spain has greenlighted the sale of over-the-counter antigen self-tests, which will soon be available in pharmacies.
The move, first announced last week before being approved during the Spanish government's cabinet meeting on Tuesday, means anyone will be able to purchase a rapid Covid-19 test without a prescription.
A positive antigen test, however, must be notified to health authorities, who will then carry out further testing to determine whether the person has the virus or not.
"The health system will have to check the diagnosis for it to be counted as a positive case," Spanish government spokesperson Isabel Rodríguez said.
As cases remain high in Catalonia, which was placed in the European Union's highest risk category last week, as well as elsewhere in Spain, particularly among younger, unvaccinated residents, it is thought self-tests will help to ease some of the pressure on the primary care system.
Spain currently has a 14-day incidence rate of just under 600 infections per 100,000 inhabitants, largely due to the spread of the more contagious Delta variant. At 1,233.93, this figure is more than twice as high in Catalonia, although cases have begun to "stabilize."
As of Monday, free antigen tests for children ages 10 to 15 who are enrolled in summer camps in Catalonia are available in certain pharmacies, which they are advised to take every three days.
These tests will not be made available to younger children because, according to public health official Laia Asso, "the increase in cases has not been nearly as high for them as it has for other age groups."
Authorities also announced last week that they would prioritize the vaccination of summer camp counselors.
Covid-19 in Catalonia
As of July 19, 2021, official figures, released daily on this website, state there have been 843,276 Covid-19 cases confirmed by PCR and other types of tests, such as antibody tests, while a total of 22,340 people have died since the beginning of the outbreak according to funeral homes.
Meanwhile, 4,780,008 residents have been given the first dose of the vaccine, 61.9% of the total population. Out of those, 3,659,128 have also been administered a second dose (47.4% of the total population). 4,093,092 residents are considered to be fully immunized (53%).