Laboratories and pharmacies in Brazil began to face a lack of tests for Covid-19 at a time of high number of cases, with the spread of Ômicron variant. The trend is for normalization to occur only when testing demand declines in large consumers, especially the United States.
The assessment was made by Alex Galoro, director of the clinical analysis committee at Abramed (Brazilian Association of Diagnostic Medicine) in an interview with CNN Brasil this Saturday (15th).
“Currently, demand is very high in the U.S, a major consumer of the tests, but it is already beginning to show some signs of a decrease in the number of cases. If consumption drops there, we will probably receive more tests, and this can normalize or at least reduce this shortage in the coming weeks”, he says.
“As there was already the same wave of Ômicron in other countries that are exporters of the tests, such as the United Kingdom and the United States, when we went to replenish the stocks there was a difficulty with the suppliers, who began to split deliveries and keep a small amount”.
The analysis, according to him, is based on the trend observed in the United Kingdom and on South Africa, which reached a peak of cases in about two months and then began to record a reduction in numbers, with normalization in the demand for tests.
However, this means that there will still be problems with testing for some time. “We talked a lot about the need for testing to control the pandemic, and we need to go back and say that some care is needed, rationalization in the use of tests”, he says.
“What is missing is the reagent, the test itself, the test strip. Without them, we cannot process the samples. What we have about the situation is that it is a little variable, each laboratory has its own inventory control, it may have a greater or lesser quantity, it may have a test in one laboratory or another, if necessary, it is worth looking”.
Despite this, Abramed’s recommendation is that laboratories prioritize testing only people who belong to risk groups for the disease, have severe cases, are hospitalized or need to perform some surgery.
“We have suggested that people who have had contact [com alguém que testou positivo] or have mild symptoms, who are already vaccinated and are not from the risk group, do not test at this time”, says Galoro.
Abramed’s director says that the lack of tests is widespread, both in large and small cities. At the same time that tests are lacking, the number of positive results has increased.
Abramed represents about 65% of exams carried out in the area of supplementary health, and had an increase of practically 100% in the number of tests carried out from mid-December until now. “Positivity has gone up from around 7% in early December to over 40% today, demand is really high,” he says.
For Galoro, investment and support for the formation of a national industry that can produce the test inputs, most of which are currently imported, “would be something to think about”.
“We have few national industries that make it, Fiocruz offers some quick tests, but it is an insufficient amount to meet this market”, he says.
As for the chance of a test giving a false positive, the director says that this type of error is “much less frequent than the false negative. The false negative depends on collection, transport, and this is also a fear in relation to self-testing, which has been suggested, because collection is essential, and if you are not careful, do it too superficially, there is this risk”.
Although Abramed is in favor of autotestes, he states that it is necessary to guide the population well about the realization. Furthermore, at the present time, self-tests could be lacking as well, or worsen the shortage in laboratories, since the reagents used are the same.
“If you make it available directly to the patient, there will be competition and it can generate shortages either for the patient or for the laboratory. We are not against self-testing, we know how important it is, but we suggest that there be a discussion about the validation criteria, guidelines for carrying out the test”, he says.
Check out guidelines from the Ministry of Health in the face of the diagnosis of Covid-19
Reference: CNN Brasil