• Antigens: these are the new tests against covid


shields professional football from the overwhelming second wave of the pandemic, which is gradually embracing all the cities of Spain.

To guarantee competition,


security measures

have been increased and clubs have been asked to choose emergency stadiums outside their provinces, in case they confine them.

Now, in addition, a step forward is being taken in the early hunting of the virus.

In the coming days, the periodic controls of the teams will change.

They will replace

leave the famous PCR for antigen tests

, the latest innovation when it comes to identifying infected people.

These controls are the alternative that the


have found to speed up the process of detecting possible patients.

Hospitals and primary care centers, for example in the Community of Madrid, are in the process of renewing their tests.

They intend to apply them as soon as possible.


Ministry of Health itself

, through its Public Health Commission, approved last week the incorporation of antigens as a diagnostic and screening tool in the fight against covid.

"It will allow us to be more effective in controlling the expansion in the event of a possible positive case and thus better ensure the safety of the competition," according to official




"Faster, cheaper, and nearly as efficient as PCR."

The precise headline is given by Dr.

Justo Menéndez, head of the emergency service at HM Hospitales in Madrid


He takes some time out of his hectic schedule to explain that antigens are a very interesting advance to control work groups, for example soccer teams.

LaLiga wants to make the change to gain speed in obtaining results and thus avoid situations such as Fuenlabrada in the last day of the Second Division last season.

Everything was going well, the bubble

of the condensed final sprint league

had worked with applauded efficiency until the covid slipped through a crack and turned the resolution of the silver category upside down.

The Fuenlabrada players, harassed by the rush, boarded a plane to

La Coruña

without the results of the PCR that had been carried out that morning.

They met them hours later, in Galician lands, bringing an outbreak of contagions to the doors of Riazor that still drags a judicial queue.

Now the antigen tests would prevent a similar scene, since in just 15 or 20 minutes the members of a template will know if they are positive or negative.

What is the reason for this reduction in time?

"Antigens do not go to the laboratory, they can be analyzed anywhere, without the need for the machinery and genetic specialists required for PCR," explains Dr. Menéndez, who in the past held the same position as

Fernando Simón

, at the head of the Center for Health Alerts and Emergencies in the Ministry of Health.

A saving of thousands of euros

The antigens will also reduce the enormous costs that LaLiga was paying until now with the continuous controls.

Before and after each game, some

5,000 tests

are carried out

between the 42 First and Second clubs


The price of PCR varies, but is usually around 90 euros, while antigens will cost only 5. Therefore, the savings per day will exceed 400,000 euros, a very remarkable figure that will relieve LaLiga's coffers in this time of serious crisis from income.

"The PCR will continue to be used in the previous matches [48 hours before]", they point to this newspaper from a Primera club, where they confirm the imminent change of test.

The procedure will be just as annoying, with the extraction of organic samples

via the nose and throat

through a swab.

Soccer people say that in the final stretch of the last League, as the weeks progressed, the penetration of the object was deepening.

The difference from now on will be that soon the footballers, members of the coaching staff and club employees will know if they should quarantine or can continue working.

At the foot of the field the results will be obtained.

High efficiency

'Antigens detect the virus particle that activates the immune system in the throat.

Its sensitivity and efficacy are around 90-93%, close to PCR.

A patient in an outpatient clinic, for example, if he arrives with symptoms, could go home minutes later knowing the result.

An acceleration that will help a lot to quarantines and control the spread of the virus, "explains

Dr. Menéndez

, not very optimistic, though, when it comes to seeing the public in the stadiums this season.

Its location, in the first line of fire, makes him fear that normality, thanks to the long-awaited vaccine, will still take a few months.

"This disease is very dynamic and complicates prognoses," he laments.

The new tests will not park the well-known PCR, a system that is still considered the gold standard for the detection of


by health



A positive antigen in a soccer player will be immediately confirmed by PCR.

Both methods, experts warn, are still ineffective if the virus has entered the body shortly before the test.

Just yesterday, the



published a document that included the pros and cons of antigen tests, clarifying that their reliability is lower in asymptomatic individuals or those who are in the first days of




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