Home testing kits for Covid-19 are about to hit high-street pharmacies in Spain for the much-more-affordable price of €25.50 – a massive reduction on the cost of a PCR test, which ranges from €95 to €150 and is only available at a private clinic for those who do not have symptoms and have not been near a ‘positive-testing’ person.
PrimaCovid tests for the antibodies IgG and IgM, which shows whether the person has the SARS-CoV-2 virus or, indeed, has ever had it. Results appear within 15 to 20 minutes and it is carried out at home by pricking a finger and taking a drop of blood.
Spain’s Ministry of Health says that as it has been approved by the European Union, it does not have to be signed off by the national drugs authority, the Spanish Medications and Healthcare Products Agency (AEMPS), which will allow it to hit the shelves much earlier.
Any medicine which bears the ‘CE’ kitemark, meaning it has been given the green light by the EU, can be sold freely in pharmacies, the ministry says. The AEMPS has requested ‘complementary information’ about PrimaCovid, however, from its manufacturers in Switzerland, in order to review it – which is standard procedure.
Health Minister Salvador Illa stresses, though, that an antibody test has ‘limited use’ from a diagnostic point of view, and is mainly suitable for those who need to ‘prove they are negative’.
The distribution company in Spain, ELIX Pharma, expects it to be on sale between 10th and 15th December, with around half a million delivered over the next three months.
Managing Director Fernando Díez says the recommended retail price is €25.50 – which means it may be slightly more or slightly less when it becomes available to the public – is because ELIX Pharma is ‘committed to avoiding market speculation’, or is focused on its being of service to the community rather than a profit-maker.
The idea is that economies of scale will eventually allow the distributor to reduce the price, meaning it is expected to be cheaper within about three to four months.
Unfortunately, though, it will only be available on prescription, and the criteria for GPs to prescribe it is not yet clear.