With the purpose of implementing massive testing in 2021 to detect Covid-19, the Costa Rican Ministry of Health values acquiring rapid COVID test kits. These are techniques with saliva, some of which work as pregnancy tests, confirmed Daniel Salas, Minister of Health. To include this technique, the tests must be homologated and it must be ensured that kits are available on the market.
“There are techniques that are starting to come out; people can gargle and with tests similar to pregnancy tests they can tell if they are positive or not. We are analyzing what we can bring to the country that could be good and that helps us detect cases,” Salas explained.
These tests are highly accepted in the population, revealed a study by the UCR
In Costa Rica, 84.1% of the population would be willing to have a test to diagnose COVID-19, if a massive campaign were carried out in the country. However, this percentage increases to 92.3%, if the diagnosis is made based on a new test, from a saliva sample, the survey showed.
Another tool they would be looking to acquire is the Covid ID Now, a rapid and isothermal (with temperature) test, which showed 96.2% sensitivity and 99.5% specificity compared to molecular PCR tests.
However, its high demand in the world could hinder the process, as it happened this past year. “When we tried to acquire it, they told us: do not dream of having it in 2020 because it is already monopolized for certain markets,” Salas admitted.
While these new kits are being acquired, antigen tests are already being used in 17 Health Areas, from regions where high transmission has been identified. It is a nasopharyngeal sample and these tests are useful to detect those that are positive, but not to rule out negative cases; these should undergo a PCR test. The tests are performed on those who present symptoms between days 1 and 5 on the course of the disease. In total, about 250 thousand tests of this type were acquired that will be applied for six months.
PCR the most accurate
On the other hand, it should be clarified that none of these rapid tests is as accurate as the PCR (both open and closed), which are the ones currently used by the country to confirm positive cases.
In this type of test, the most complicated issue has been to acquire closed PCRs, which give faster results and with which detection can be taken to more remote areas, since they do not require highly specialized equipment and personnel.