The proliferation of PCR tests overwhelms hospital laboratories – CVBJ
01/01/2022 at 19:42 CET
the Spanish hospital laboratories they are overwhelmed again for the realization of PCR tests to confirm positive cases of coronavirus. Although more communities are accepting antigen test results as valid, for weeks, technicians have tripled the number of tests they perform daily and have once again stepped up shifts. Only in Castile and Leon, is received every day in hospitals an average of 1,500 samples health centers.
This is how Juan Carlos Rodríguez, president of the Spanish Association of Laboratory technicians (AETEL) the main and oldest national organization that represents Senior Clinical and Biomedical Laboratory Technicians and Senior Pathological Anatomy and Cytodiagnostic Technicians who work in hospitals. “Until now, the situation was not as bad as in the first wave – at the time, we did a lot less PCR because they had no reagents or they lacked materials, c ‘is accurate – due to the lightness of the cases with the omicron variant, but even so, we’ve been overwhelmed for quite some time. a few weeks: we tripled the tests“.
PCRs that are done in hospitals are, in many cases, people who are admitted – not necessarily because of the coronavirus – either sick or because they are going to have an operation and to which tests must be carried out before any intervention. In addition, there are the people who enter with a suspected infection of covid-19 and the tests that arrive from health centers to be treated: an average of 1,500 per day only in Castilla y León, explains Rodríguez, who works at the Salamanca hospital.
Little is said about the saturation of clinical microbiology laboratories in this sixth wave, never seen in the entire pandemic
– María Siller (@MerySiller) December 28, 2021
This group is responsible for testing positive patients in the health services. Microbiology hospitals, where PCRs are performed; collect samples for RNA extraction; put them in the analyzer equipment to then detect the DNA of the virus and then sequence. Once everything is done, the one who signs the report is the microbiologist.
A collective that brings together a few 40,000 professionals who work in public and private hospitals from all over Spain and who consider that their vital work is not sufficiently recognized. They claim that their training, a higher degree of Professional training, become a four-year university degree as happens in other countries and, even, explains Juan Carlos Rodríguez, they do not exclude stops in the sector.
Surf the sixth wave
The president of AETEL explains how his work has evolved over successive waves. In the current, precise, a large number of cases are detected by antigen tests carried out by the health centers and the hospitals themselves – in special circuits activated in this sixth wave – and self-diagnostic tests acquired in pharmacies. Indeed, several communities already consider the positives detected during these tests to be valid without the need to undergo a test. Confirmatory PCR.
Keep going with the relentless increase in cases in Spain -the indicators of the pandemic return to smash their records a few hours after bidding farewell to the year and the incidence (with Thursday’s data) has already reached 1,775 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days- hospital laboratories have once again found a huge overload of work. “For the past month, we have tripled the PCR samples when it seemed that it was on the way to normality. We stepped up the 24 hour shifts again and analyzed what kind of variant it is to find out. what is the prevalence of omicron, which is already very high and that is why there are so many infections, ”explains Juan Carlos Rodríguez.
PCR of health centers
Not all PCRs are performed in the same space time, specify. It depends on the equipment and laboratories and the patient for which they are intended. For example, emergency procedures for a patient to undergo surgery can take up to twenty minutes, whereas before, the technician explains, it took four hours. In hospitals, there are also large teams where samples from health centers are analyzed.
Several communities accept a positive result of an antigen test, but lab technicians disagree: “Protocols say it must be confirmed by PCR”
Basque Country, Catalonia and Navarre, are the autonomies where more PCR is performed, indicates Juan Carlos Rodriguez, for whom, the correct thing is that positive antigen tests are confirmed later with a test of this type, which, given the large number of cases, there are communities where, like Madrid or Catalonia, is no longer done. In addition, the Ministry of Health itself announced, with the passage of the isolation period from 10 to 7 days in the event of asymptomatic positives, that people with symptoms should not undergo PCR after their isolation. (in this case 10 days). Neither to finish this quarantine, nor to return to work.
“But the protocols say that this must be confirmed by PCR,” laments the president of AETEL. “Many antigens, even if the result is negative, do not detect that you may be infected, for example if you have a low viral load. In addition, there are variants that can escape this testAnother aspect that stands out is the picaresque that can occur with the results of tests that are often done at home. ”How do I think I eat? GP that you have made an antigen and is it positive? “, he concludes.