Questions and answers about the COVID passport, the three doses and the infections detected with antigens at home
Understanding omicron is proving to be a challenge for scientists and citizens in the early stages of 2022. This variant, which appeared in November and will travel around the globe, has already caused people to self-diagnose at home, cutting the quarantines, the first European steps towards 'influenza' and also an important modification in the vaccine reinforcement strategy in Spain. This Tuesday, Health and the communities issued a new recommendation advising to wait five months until injecting the third dose in people who have just overcome the coronavirus. This new criterion is established after numerous criticisms from immunologists who did not look favorably on applying consecutive boosters against COVID-19.
When should the third dose be given, what will be the last injection for the general healthy population or what do I have to do to obtain a recovery certificate are some of the questions that have arisen after the change in criteria by Health.
If you are over 18 years old, from January 13 you are called to get the third dose. In the event that COVID-19 has just passed, it is necessary to wait a month since the infection was overcome, although Health and the communities recommend, starting this Tuesday, to wait five months to administer the third dose.
"It is better and it is necessary", confirms the secretary of the Spanish Society of Immunology, Carmen Cámara. "It's better because the immune system needs to rest between doses. We know that two doses protect you from severe disease, and that two doses and omicron give you a cellular and antibody response that lasts at least six months. There are already published studies," argues.
The Public Health Commission issued this Tuesday a new criterion, which immunologists describe as "rectification". In early January, the criteria called for waiting four weeks from infection to the third dose, a decision that surprised experts. Scientists criticized the measure for not being necessary and because it could be counterproductive for the body.
In any case, the summons will be open to the citizen's choice once four weeks have passed, provided that six months have elapsed since the last dose or three in the case of people who were vaccinated with AstraZeneca and Janssen.
No. "If someone has received the vaccine before five months, don't worry, nothing will happen to them. It has no adverse effects. The problem is that it's like throwing it away. If you have antibodies and T cells of memory in those six months, why take another dose? It is simply to optimize vaccines," explains Cámara. The expert also points out that it is time to consider "if this third dose is really necessary in a young and healthy population" at this time of the pandemic, "with a variant as benign as omicron for this population group."
"The new proposal continues to consider the possibility of administering this booster dose at four weeks, although for a greater generation of an immune response it is recommended that it be at five months," confirmed the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias. "Both issues may be possible because it's all about maximizing profit," she continued. "As of February 1, the Commission's new regulations regarding the COVID web certificate will come into force and the rights of many people who want to mobilize and do so must also be reconciled," she settled.
Yes, the COVID passport expires nine months after completing the primary vaccination. The Council of the EU has agreed to establish the limit of nine months of validity of the document that is used to travel within the European Union and that has also been used in various countries to carry out activities such as entering bars and museums. Some countries such as Italy and Portugal, in addition to the COVID passport, have required during this time negative tests to be able to enter the country.
Whoever wants the COVID certificate to continue freeing him from PCR in his day-to-day life and on some of his trips will have to get a booster dose before the nine months are up. The agreement of the 27 will enter into force on February 1 and is not binding, that is, each country can ask for more requirements at the entrance or when enjoying leisure activities.
"Many people are getting vaccinated to be able to travel and this is crazy. The vaccination certificate has to evolve into an immunization certificate. This cannot be a reason to advance the dose," warns the immunologist.
Cámara defends that the fact of passing the disease should be considered in itself another contact with the virus. "If passing the virus is better than a vaccination dose, why is it not going to be taken into account when it was taken into account in the first vaccination phase?" The immunologist asks that vaccines not be wasted at a time when there is still a shortage in many countries.
Adding a third booster dose; with a negative PCR obtained no more than 72 hours prior to travel or a negative antigen test obtained no more than 24 hours prior to travel; or a certificate of recovery stating that no more than 180 days have passed from the date of the first positive diagnostic test result.
No. "The cure certificate requires PCR, it is governed by a European regulation, but Spain is leading the request for a change so that an antigen test is valid," indicates a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health. At the moment, it is not defined whether a pharmacy test can be used to obtain a document of this type. In any case, confirmation by a health center would be required. Therefore, a serological test carried out in a private laboratory would not work either.
"There needs to be a positive PCR in the system. That is the problem. If you have done it privately, unless your family doctor includes it in your electronic history, you have a problem. This is something else that It is necessary to solve and more now when so many people have been diagnosed with an antigen test at home", adds Cámara.
This is not yet known. The pandemic is going through a phase of uncertainty. On the one hand, The WHO announced on Monday that the pandemic was close to entering a new stage of stabilization and, on the other hand, the EU agreed the following day park the contagion map as an indicator in the management of travel between countries and that COVID certificates prevail. However, the secretary of the Spanish Society of Immunology considers that their days may be numbered.
"The certificate has two newscasts left if ómicron does what is expected, which is to give a brutal boost. The last booster of immunity. With a bit of luck next winter we won't have the problem we have now," concludes Cámara.
We don't know either. At the moment, the third dose has just been approved for people over 18 years of age in Spain. First we will have to see what happens with the children, many still pending completion of the guideline against the coronavirus. The fourth vaccine has only been approved for immunosuppressed people, cancer patients or those who have undergone a transplant.