“Quickie tests” taken at pharmacies qualify for Covid Digital Certificate, assures health minister

Negative results of “quickie” antigen tests taken at pharmacies are enough for people seeking Covid Digital Certificates to allow free mobility on national territory.

This assertion has been made by health minister Marta Temido in interview with ECO online.

While the relevance of the certificate has been called into question by Germany’s decision on Friday to block entry into the country to the fully-vaccinated, Ms Temido stresses that for internal purposes it will be key to allowing access to determined events.

If people have not been vaccinated (or have only had the first shot in a two-shot programme), they can choose the ‘negative test’ option, and this does not necessarily have to be a PCR test, she explained. Quickie antigen tests (which give results in roughly half an hour) will also qualify as long as they are communicated by the pharmacy to SINAVE (the national system for epidemiological vigilance) and as long as they are accompanied by a laboratory report.

Their validity however will not be as long as that conferred by negative PCR tests.

A negative PCR test is valid for 72-hours. A negative antigen test is valid for only 48.

Covid Digital Certificates can be obtained through the SNS portal (click here). Over 600,000 have already been emitted, though for European travel purposes they will only be considered ‘official’ from this Thursday, July 1 (and in the case of travel to Germany, they will still not preclude a 14-day requirement to remain in quarantine).

On the Unilabs site, the ‘principal limitations’ of quickie antigen tests are given as: 

  • They are actually less sensitive than PCR tests
  • They function better with elevated viral loads, within one to five days after the start of first symptoms of Covid-19
  • People with low viral loads can present false negatives
  • The test may not detect infected people at the start of asymptomatic infection or light infection. Thus, in both these cases the person can go on to infect others.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com