Over-the-Counter Antigen Testing Finally Comes to Pharmacies

The Minister of Health advances that next week 50% of the population will have received both doses

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The Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, to the Health Commission of the Congress of Deputies on Tuesday.

As of next Tuesday, July 20, pharmacies will be allowed to sell self-diagnostic covid-19 tests (i.e. antigen or antibody tests) without prescription. This has been announced by the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, this Tuesday afternoon during an appearance in the health committee of the Spanish parliament. Some European countries have been selling them for a long time and it was one of Spanish pharmacists' demands.

"The aim is to regulate this type of test," Darias said. In the middle of the fifth wave of the pandemic, with an accumulated incidence of 436 cases per 100,000 inhabitants throughout the state, the minister has argued that they also have to help "effectively control" the evolution of the virus and to increase "the diagnostic capacity of the health system in order to detect positive cases more quickly, even asymptomatic ones, as is the case for most of the population aged between 12 and 29".

The measure will receive the green light after months of debate and uncertainty. In fact, the Ministry of Health officially proposed it in May. Then the Spanish government published the draft of a royal decree that was to allow pharmacies to sell tests to detect the coronavirus. The measure will finally receive final approval more than two months later.

50% with both doses

Darias has advanced that by next week over 50% of the population vacciwill have received both vaccine doses. Darias congratulated herself over the pace of vaccination in Spain and maintained that the goal of 70% of vaccinated population by the end of August "is on the roadmap and we expect fulfil it". Even so, she recalled that there are still many citizens, especially young people, who have not received the vaccine and urged caution before "two very different curves" between the population above and below 40 years.

Although the cumulative incidence has shot up again in the State, Darias has asked that epidemiological data be read "in a more integrated way" because having a large part of the "target" population vaccinated means "a significant protection against hospitalisation and deaths. On the delta variant, the minister acknowledged that an "increase its presence" in Spain was foreseeable, as was its becoming dominant.