Pharmacies open to do more antigen tests to reduce primary care centers collapse

During the last days, demands for antigen tests have increased by 20% due to a spike in Covid-19 cases

Antigen tests in a pharmacy on December 17, 2021 (by Gerard Vilà)
Antigen tests in a pharmacy on December 17, 2021 (by Gerard Vilà) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

December 29, 2021 09:46 AM

Catalonia’s Pharmaceutical Association has offered its services to the health department in order to help avoid a collapse of primary care centers (CAPs). Pharmacies are able to do more antigen tests, especially now during the sixth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Since December 14, pharmacies across Catalonia have seen an increase in requests for this kind of test, and in the last few days, demand has gone up by 20%, and several have run out of stock before Christmas.

However, Catalan pharmacies believe they can still do more to help reduce the load on primary care centers as happens in other European countries, so doctors and nurses can focus on a more specialized treatment.

"We have a lot of countries in Europe that have used pharmacies as a key element, it does not feel right not to do the same here, despite the fact that Catalonia is the first one in Spain, we are still the last ones in Europe," Antoni Torres, president of Catalonia’s Pharmaceutical Association, said.

With the spike in cases due to the Omicron variant in Catalonia, antigen tests sales have gone up by 20% despite the lack of supply. The majority of the tests come from Asia, and orders were placed over three weeks ago when the demand was much lower.

For Torres, Catalonia and Spain had doubts about their antigen test policy and that has made it difficult to find a solution. This is why for Torres, it should be important to plan ahead as much as possible for expected mass testing campaigns. But, the appearance of the Omicron variant and the compulsory Covid-19 certificate to enter Portugal and Italy have increased demand unexpectedly.

Catalan residents during Christmas

The vast majority of people buying antigen tests are Catalan residents that will meet with family or friends over the Christmas holidays. They want to be assured that they have a negative result, while some others get tested because they are a close contact of a Covid positive.

In fact, according to Catalonia’s Pharmaceutical Association, the majority book an appointment but others just wait in line their turn at the pharmacy door.

However, in both cases, they normally do not have any symptoms, except some with a small cold, and between 7% to 8% test positive, half of the overall average.