“The citizen must know where to get a test for Covid-19”

The appearance of centers provisionally authorized to perform analytical tests for covid-19, which are advertised on the same scale as clinical analysis laboratories, could undermine the image of the latter and confuse the public about the reliability of the tests carried out in each of them. So at least he perceives it Dr. Manuel Oliver, director of some laboratories with the same name in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and in Cruce de Melenara, who requests a correct list of authorized centers to the Canary Islands Health Service and that the laboratories appear in the first place as a guarantee of quality.

“The citizen must know where he is going to undergo a specific analytical test such as when he requires another type of medical attention,” warns the specialist in light of the fear that a health issue such as the pandemic will become something merely “economic” with the harm that entails for all. And it is that in some lists that circulate on the Internet, a youth association may appear in the first place over a clinic and a clinical analysis laboratory, as if the same tests were carried out in all entities and the personnel who analyzed the results were the same.

The Analysis Specialist, with more than 35 years of experience, clarifies that clinical analysis laboratories are facilities accredited by the Canary Islands Health Service to carry out multidisciplinary analyzes; In the case of covid-19, they can carry out PCR, antibody and antigen tests, and with “very specific and very demanding regulations” given the responsibility of handling samples from the human body or other types of specimens such as the coronavirus. required with a medical prescription due to its importance

In contrast, authorized centers that have voluntarily wanted to collaborate with Health to stop the pandemic can only do COVID tests that do not require equipment; that is to say, those known as rapid tests, which are capable of detecting, through a sample of blood or mucosa, antibodies or proteins of the virus, respectively, -tests of antibodies or antigens-; that do not have as many guarantees of reliability as the PCR test, that require an inhibitor reagent so that the virus loses infectivity and eliminate biological risks when the sample is taken by specialized personnel, as well as to be able to interpret and analyze the results obtained.

“The Clinical Analysis Laboratories are periodically inspected, they are required to perform internal and external quality control in addition to having specific liability insurance for the type of activity carried out and a contract with a company for the elimination of waste. ”, Says Manuel Oliver, about the obligations they have in order to function, which guarantees the health benefits they offer. The specialist warns that with the coronavirus pandemic “a health business” has been created, where each establishment establishes rates, since there have been no limits to the provisionally authorized centers that also “are gradually growing without control” against the “public service” character of the Clinical Analysis Laboratories. A problem that adds to the monopolization and industrialization that the sector is suffering in the hands of multinationals.

A covid analysis. | | ANDRES CRUZ

Unfair competition

Manuel Oliver indicates that, without underestimating the role that provisionally authorized centers play in the pandemic control strategy, a kind of unfair competition authorized by the Canary Islands Health Service has been created that can undermine the credibility of the laboratories, which carry out “A personalized diagnosis” of each patient, also validated by a specialist doctor who later forwards the data of the positives and negatives to the Epidemiological Surveillance Service dependent on Public Health for the control of infections. “We do an interview or previous anamnesis to the patient that requires an analytical test to focus on what type of patient he is; We ask what he wants it for, if he has symptoms, if he has been in contact or not with a positive, how the contact has been, if he belongs to a risk group and / or strategic work, and based on that we do the test adequate analysis, which we verify by at least two different devices to refine to the maximum with the diagnosis because I do not dare to give a positive if it is not, or vice versa “, clarifies the doctor to make it understood that this” personalization of the diagnosis “gives guarantee to the citizen that they leave with a correct result, hence the PCR tests are more expensive than rapid tests, although the benefit for the laboratory is not as great as it is believed given the material to be used and the time that is lost in issuing a sure result. In the PCR tests, the viral load expressed in the Ct index is reported with the pertinent explanation.

The specialist (Vocal of Analysis in the Official College of Pharmacists) adds that the laboratories have also made a significant investment in devices to more reliably detect the coronavirus with PCR tests – in his case more than 100,000 euros in material that their suppliers have had to export from the US-, as well as protection material for the center’s staff and disinfection for the facilities, since we work with a highly contagious virus, without forgetting that a ‘false security’ may be created among the citizens who have negative in a rapid test since it does not have “the same guarantees of reliability” as a PCR.

“Antibody tests give many false negatives if they are not done by adequate high-performance techniques (Chemiluminescence, Fluorescence) and the antigens only detect if the patient has a high viral load,” he points out about the danger of contagion that may have those people who show traces without reaching the levels required by Health to be positive if the established protection measures are not respected.

The doctor, also graduated in Law, who has seen patients with atypical pneumonia, HIV (Human Immunodeficiency) and Influenza A during his long professional career both in the public and private sector, considers that SARS Cov 2 (Covid-19) ”Is the worst virus he has ever handled. “It is a very intelligent or ‘rare’ virus because it is caught by a 90-year-old man, and possibly due to his genetics, not much happens to him; while a young man in his 30s, an athlete, is infected and ends up in the ICU ”, says the doctor, who recalls how they faced it in the first months of the pandemic when there was no material to protect themselves and nothing was known about the virus that it spread freely throughout the world. “We did not have enough gloves to protect ourselves or reagents,” he recalls to affirm that neither public nor private health was prepared for a health catastrophe of this type to which he predicts, if there is not a rapid and massive vaccination, “two more years” .


Laboratory that does Covid analysis
Andres Cruz


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