It’s hard to believe that almost two years have passed since this whole pandemic began. And personally, it’s hard to believe I’m now going through Covid again here in Madrid. Fortunately, at least so far, it seems much more mild, and I haven’t lost my sense of smell and taste which would have been the icing on the cake.
First, an important note about Antigen tests. At least here in Madrid everyone and their mother is running to buy them like candy to see if they’re positive and to know if they can continue with xmas plans, dinners, etc. for the holidays. They’re sold out all over the place. In a matter of weeks here we’ve gone from overall a positive feeling of things still not 100%, but more or less getting back to normal to crisis mode, long lines at the health center and positives all around. What happened?
Anyway, back to the antigen tests: if you get a negative result that doesn’t mean that you don’t have Covid!! This is probably my biggest message here, more than anything because it’s not a secret, but it’s not at all something that’s clear to the public, and it wasn’t really clear to me (and I consider myself more or less an intelligent person). You can have covid in your system and you can even have symptoms, but an antigen test will only show up positive for sure if it’s been three days since the start of your symptoms (or lack of if you’re not showing any symptoms but still have it). So if you buy a test at the pharmacy and it comes back negative it either means you don’t have covid or it’s too early to show up on the antigen test. If you had a PCR, which is not rapid, it would show up. If the antigen test comes back positive you’re definitely positive (no false positives). What seems crazy to me is the rush of people buying antigen tests that could very likely be getting false negatives without realizing it. Should they even be selling antigen tests if this is the case??
In my case my husband was feeling pretty sick for a few days. After requesting a Covid appointment through the public health system and never even getting a phone call, he decided to buy one of the saliva antigen tests through the pharmacy. It came back positive. Since we weren’t sure whether to believe it not, and since I wanted to check myself as well, we bought two more antigen tests (this time the nose swab ones): both of tests came back negative. It’s tough to understand any of this really. Since there was no response from the health center and no clear answer he decided to do the PCR privately – 99€ and a day later it was confirmed he was positive. Everyone quarantined.
Then I came down with a fever and chills, and my older son had the same thing. This passed in a day, but given the situation I decided to take both of my sons to the public health center to see if we could get tested. They did, but they told me that since it was a Friday afternoon it was too late to send the test to the laboratory for a PCR (definite results), so they did the antigen tests instead – all negative.
Three days later, with cold-like symptoms, I went back to the health center (where I thought I was going to get a PCR as per a conversation that morning with a doctor) only to be told I was getting an antigen test again. I was not very happy since even the doctor told me that morning that the antigens aren’t reliable, but – surprise surprise, it came back positive immediately. This is when they explained that it didn’t “work” the first time since it had only been a day since I had started symptoms. Talk about confusing messages – I was told I was negative on Friday, when really I wasn’t.
The question everyone has been asking me is if we were vaccinated – yes! Fully vaccinated (two shots in his case and one in mine since I had Covid in early 2020 and one shot was all they would give me to be fully vaccinated here). And yes, I’m still planning to go for the booster shot when all of this is over. So far Omicron seems more mild, thank goodness, maybe since I already was in touch with his brother a year and a half ago.
Bottom line – be careful with the antigen tests and negative results!
Let’s just hope this last wave passes by quickly and without as much damage.
Happy early holidays to all. Santa will be magically crossing our quarantine line to deliver presents in a few days. I hope he’s wearing a mask 🙂