If you need to travel to the United States, know that starting this Thursday 11th you will have the option of taking an antigen test against COVID-19 in Costa Rica. This test not only has a lower price than the PCR test, which is already being performed, but it also provides a faster result.
At the moment, it can only be done at Laboratorios Echandi, which this past Tuesday announced that the price is $ 60 and the patient will have the resolution of the test the same day. The antigen tests were approved by the Ministry of Health in late January, but it is not until now that a laboratory offers them commercially.
It should be noted that these tests are not valid as a diagnosis to determine if a patient has COVID-19. However, the United States government does authorize them for passengers traveling to that country. It is not a valid test to travel to all countries. For example, the European Union only allows the entry of tourists who present a negative result by PCR.
The sample for this test is a nasopharyngeal swab. Those who wish to apply it will have to present an identity card and air ticket, and do it within a maximum period of 72 hours before leaving the country, said Federico Echandi, General Manager of Laboratorios Echandi.
If the test is positive, it will be considered confirmatory of COVID-19 and the notification must be made to the Ministry of Health. However, a negative result does not rule out active infection and is not diagnostic in asymptomatic people, Echandi said.
Another nine laboratories also received authorization from Health to perform the test:
- Hospitali Clínica Biblica
- Hospital la Católica
- Metropolitan Hospital
- Universal Hospital Laboratory
- Cartín Laboratory
- Cenahce Laboratory
- Páez Laboratory
- San José Laboratory
- Labin Laboratory
These laboratories have the guarantee for the purchase of necessary supplies in order to offer this service.
Nidia Morera, acting director of the Customer Service Directorate of the Ministry of Health, commented that antigen tests determine the presence of viral proteins by immunocapture that detects the antigen through an antibody.
“The approval in private health services is given with the aim of complying with the travel requirements demanded by some countries for the entry or transit of people through their territory, so to request the completion of the test it is necessary to present the ticket air of the person concerned,” Morera stressed.
How do I know if I have COVID?
Many people may have unknowingly suffered from COVID-19. Possibly they got sick but mistook the disease for the flu or a respiratory infection. Neither the PCR nor the antigen test are adequate to confirm your suspicions. The test to find out is the antibody test, which some private laboratories offer.
To perform this test requires a blood sample from the patient with which an analysis is done. The result will determine if the patient developed antibodies, which are proteins that the body’s immune system generates to protect itself from the virus.
These antibodies take two to three weeks to develop after a person is ill, and can be detected in the blood for several months or more after the illness. These exams can be performed in five laboratories in the country. In the case of Laboratorios Echandi, its cost is ₡ 24,000.