The serological survey that has been announced by the Ministry of Health, is a key tool in deciding on how the first steps of de-escalation will take shape in Spain, as it will reveal the incidence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in Spain. But the government will have to wait for these results, as it will last for eight weeks.
The survey was scheduled to begin last week, but “certain adjustments,” according to the Minister of Health, Fernando Simón, have led to delays.
They shared the plans for this survey with Spain’s regions on Monday, outlining that the objective is to determine the real number of people infected in the country, and potentially, how much of the population is immune to the virus.
The document that was sent out, shows that after a training and testing period, the surveys will begin on Monday April 27th at the earliest.
The tests will be carried out in primary healthcare centers, unless a home visit is essential, on members of 36,000 households that have been chosen by Spain’s National Statistics Institute.
They are located across Spanish territory and cover all age sectors from the population pyramid in a proportional manner, meaning about 90,000 people will be tested in total.
Each person will be subject to two types of tests, three times, with a three-week gap between sampling, hence the eight week time period. There will be a fast inmunocromatographic test, which can detect antibodies after a simple pinprick in 10 minutes, and also, a more complete blood test known as Elisa, which offers a full analysis of the quantity of the immune response that has been generated.
With these two tests, repeated on three occasions, the aim is to have the most complete view of the immunity that has been generated, as well as how it evolves over time and if there are new infections on the way.
If the more optimistic targets are met, in the next two weeks a first round of testing will have been completed, meaning that the initial results will be available shortly after.
Simón explained on Tuesday that the survey is “an important tool in the decision regarding de-escalation, but not the only one.” The other factors that will be taken into account are the real transmission rates of the coronavirus, for which, the Ministry of Health said, it is already carrying out 100,000 tests a day nationally, and the capacity of the country’s health systems. “Faced with the risk of new waves of the epidemic, even if they are potentially minor, we can’t allow for the system to be put under the strain it has already suffered,” he said.
Health experts are saying that the survey will provide fundamental information about the coronavirus, including how many asymptomatic infections there have been, where and how it has spread, and whether or not it is still present without our knowing.
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