The Valencian Community’s health department, Sanitat, has bought 500,000 rapid COVID-19 tests.
Rapid tests that can slash COVID-19 result times from 4-6 hours to just 15 minutes have arrived in the Valencian region.
The rapid tests have been examined at Spain’s main health research institute (Instituto de Salud Carlos III).
Results showed a sensitivity (probability of correctly detecting a sick patient) of 93%.
This means 93 of every 100 patients with COVID-19 will receive a true positive – far higher than the 600,000 disastrous Chinese-made rapid tests back in April that gave true positives to around 10 of every 100 infected patients.
These new tests, called Panbio, also differ in that they test for viral genetic material, and not for antibodies.
Tests are conducted the same as in a PCR test – nasal swab – but give results in 15-20 minutes on-the-spot, rather than requiring a lab and 4-6 hours wait.
The tests also have a specificity (probability of correctly detecting a healthy patient) of 99.58%, similar to PCR testing.
The Sanitat health department have been 500,000 of these tests, which cost just 4.50€ each.
250,000 of them have already been distributed to hospitals across the three provinces of Castellón, Valencia and Alicante.
The only caveat is that tests work best 5 days after a COVID-19 patient begins to show symptoms.
The upshot is that laboratory collapses and lengthy waiting times for PCR results will be completely avoided.
Spain’s central Ministry of Health will now need to determine ‘recording systems’ to include results from the new tests in daily updates.
The government has to date ignored all results from rapid tests in their official coronavirus statistics, relying solely on PCR.