Society 30/06/2021

Health Department mess: those diagnosed with antigen tests will not have a recovery certificate

They will not be able to download the document to be able to travel to the EU as of 1 July

3 min
The lax prevention of covid to airplanes

BarcelonaFinally, people who have passed the covid in the last six months but were diagnosed with an antigen test (TAR) will not be able to travel within the EU with the covid recovery certificate. They will have to wait to be vaccinated or have a diagnostic test specifically to travel, according to the criteria set by each country. This is the final answer that the Health Department has given Tuesday to the ARA, although when asked by the same newspaper the Secretary of Public Health, Carmen Cabezas, had raised that the certificate of recovery would be given to all Catalans who have passed the covid. I In fact, on Monday she went so far as to detail that the error would be fixed by Thursday, 1 July at the latest, which is when the document for travel within the European Union comes into operation. However, sources from the Health Department have admitted that the secretary "got confused": they claim that she attributed error 1004 to the vaccination certificate, with which there have also been problems with antigen tests, and not to the recovery certificate. 

Cabezas said that "a lot of information had to be managed" and checked to see that it conformed to "European criteria when it comes to say if you have suffered the disease and you can not spread it", since the first months of the pandemic, she said, the PCR was not widely available and could not make an accurate diagnosis. However, according to health sources, the epidemiologist was referring to the vaccination certificate of people who had been diagnosed with TAR and had received a first dose of the vaccine. If they are under 66 years old, the protocol states that they have the full course of treatment, but many of them did not have it on their certificate because their infection had not been detected by PCR.

Since November, the Catalan screening protocols set that a TAR is made to anyone who comes to a primary care clinic with symptoms of coronavirus. Despite being less sensitive than PCR, they are faster (they take only 20 minutes to give the result) and cheaper (each test costs less than 5 euros). The urgency to diagnose prioritised these tests to free up laboratories, which were saturated. Now, however, thousands of Catalans find that the door to the certificate of recovery is definitively closed to them. At least until the EU does not change it.

Professor of Procedural Law Jordi Nieva, who is one of those affected, regrets the situation: "One thing is that they do not validate antigen tests because the EU says so, and another thing that they want us to pay for the PCR, which in other countries are free, and that they do not accept any alternative, such as the subsequent antibody test".

The recovery certificate proves that the person has passed the infection in the last six months - during this period they are considered immune - but by order of the EU it can only be issued to those diagnosed with a PCR. The decision is quite arbitrary, because while the European Commission supports that member states authorise the entry of travelers who provide a negative TAR and has even published a list of tests that are "mutually recognised between states" so that they can be included in the various covid certificates, it vetoes this test for the aforementioned certificate.

The ARA had already detected that catalans diagnosed with a TAR test could not download the certificate. The answer they always got was that it was an error identified with the code 1004: "You cannot issue the covid-19 recovery certificate". The same message argues that the document "can be issued as long as there is documentation that you have passed the infection". Most of those affected by this error learned that they had the covid with an antigen test (TAR), a test that has the same validity in Catalonia as a PCR, but so far this has not helped them to obtain the certificate.

The covid certificate consists of two other documents apart from the recovery certificate: the vaccination certificate, which certifies that the person has received two doses of the vaccine and that at least 14 days have passed since completing the full course, and the diagnostic test certificate, which shows that the person's last PCR or antigen test (between 48 and 72 hours before the trip) was negative.