Positive for antigens… without covid certificate: the sixth wave leaves many Spaniards in limbo to travel
“People don’t travel, travel makes people,” Steinbeck said in the last century, many years before the coronavirus emerged to limit people’s experiences in this regard as well. If moving between EU countries had already become a real odyssey with the appearance of SARS-CoV-2, it can now be even more complicated. At least for some EU citizens. The European Commission’s new guidelines on the COVID passport, together with the current recommendations on vaccination and the consequences of the sixth wave, make it even more difficult to travel and leave some inhabitants of the Twenty-seven in limbo.
Since February 1, European regulations have established the expiry of the EU vaccination document at nine months to receive the second dose of serum, while the authorities advise waiting five to administer the third puncture in case of having contracted the infection. The problem? The saturation of health centers during the sixth wave meant that many infections were not confirmed by PCR, the only way to subsequently obtain a recovery certificate for travel. A) Yes, many Spaniards have neitherno valid vaccination or approved cure, and they will be forced to resort to an antigen test or a PCR to travel.
Faced with this circumstance, the people concerned were quick to express their perplexity and indignation on the networks and to ask the authorities for solutions. The more than eleven million antigen tests carried out during this sixth wave, including 3.5 positive, according to information from Health, give an idea of the extent of the situation. And not even, because it is an underestimated data, since not all infected people have communicated to the authorities their infection detected with a self-diagnostic test and some communities have not transmitted this data to the ministry. when they got it.
In this regard, the European Commission proposed last Thursday to include high-quality laboratory antigen tests among the types of tests with which a certificate can be issued. However, the problem persists for these citizens until the European Parliament and the Council back the measure, while there is still no solution for those who have undergone one of these tests at home and have tested positive.
“It’s a state of defenselessness. You have no choice but to take risks”
Juan and Laura find themselves in this situation, the fictitious names of a couple from Toledo who got vaccinated last summer and plans a trip to Paris in March. While they were waiting in January to be summoned for the booster dose, she contracted the coronavirus and tested positive for an antigen test at one of the points set up by the regional government for testing officials in the Castilian-manchega capital. The disappointment came when they discovered that she couldn’t upload the recovery certificate because it hadn’t been confirmed by PCR.
“It’s a state of helplessness. You have no choice but to take risks and skip the recommendations so as not to lose your rights”
“We have booked a trip to Eurodisney for March, we saved many months to be able to leave for children’s birthday. In addition, without the European certificate of vaccination or recovery, it is not possible to enter the park. A PCR is not useful, which is valid for travel, ”laments Juan.
However, his agony did not end there. Shortly after his wife, he was infected and to avoid being in the same situation as her, he went to a private laboratory to carry out a PCR to verify the infection and allow him to subsequently obtain the certificate of recovery. However, he fears that this is not enough since he has not used public services. Now they have to choose between losing the travel money or Laura receives the third dose before the recommended timebecause your vaccination card will have expired in March.
With the journey on the horizon, Juan bitterly comments that they are at this stage having followed all health regulations to date, from inoculating doses to reporting illness through “the established channels” and performing the required tests. “It’s a state of total helplessness. In the end, my wife is going to be vaccinated. You have no choice but to risk so as not to lose rights, even if we would have liked to avoid it. All for an administrative certificate which obliges you to ignore the recommendations, because it is badly done, and that left many of us in limbo“, he despairs.
In a similar circumstance, Alejandra, who completed her vaccination program in mid-July in Poland -where she lived- was infected at the end of December and tested positive for antigens at her health center in Zaragoza. When she asked for the healing certificate after overcoming the disease, your doctor had to make one by hand“without QR code”, since the official can only be obtained with PCR.
“When I asked my doctor for the healing certificate, he was taken by surprise. In the end, he did it by hand, without a QR code”
Due to the delays, this young woman’s vaccination card will expire in April and the recommended five months to administer the booster dose will not be respected until the end of May, a month and a half later. However, waived receiving the third puncture in Spain because of another additional difficulty: he was unable to “validate” the first two injections given to him in Poland. “If I wore the keepsake here, it would count as the first,” he explains.
“I called my health center and they told me to contact the Aragon Health Council. There, they asked me for the batch of my vaccine, which is information that does not appear in the documentation they gave me in Poland. Recognize previous doses They demand information that I don’t have and I have no way to solve itand it is not due to my professional misconduct”, he underlines. For all these reasons, he chose to receive the memory puncture in the European country, where he will go in June with an antigen test.
To tackle this problem, the European Commission proposed last Thursday to ensure that vaccination certificates contain the correct total number of doses administered in each Member State and not just in the country issuing the certificate.
“We are facing an administrative and legal void”
In addition to the general recommendations of the EU, which aim to standardize the conditions of travel between the Twenty-seven, each country can apply on its territory the measures it deems appropriate. Thus, each state will have the power to impose, for example, the compulsory presentation of tests – as some states have already done during the most difficult stage of this last wave – or quarantines. One of the most restrictive countries today is Italy, which uses an “enhanced” certificate with an expiration of six months instead of nine.
Sofia lives there, she has an Erasmus grant and needs return to Spain to take exams at their home university. In August he received the second dose and at the end of December he tested positive for coronavirus in an antigen test, so his vaccination record is over six months old and he does not have a recovery certificate . According to the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs page, it is possible to enter the country with the EU COVID passport, but the problem for this student is that she needs a “reinforced” to go from her city at the airport because she doesn’t have one. own vehicle. “It’s all very confusing,” she admits.
“We are faced with an administrative and legal vacuum in which the injured parties are us and our fundamental rights”
Cristina also had to travel to Italy in March, diagnosed with COVID two weeks ago and for whom the “reinforced” vaccination document valid in Italy expires a few days before her flight. “I don’t understand why they don’t give you the recovery certificate with an antigen test carried out at the health center, even following you with military trackers who call every day and with work stoppages specifying that it is due to COVID”, he is surprised.
“The only solution I have is to get vaccinated, risk something happening to me or cancel my trip with all that entails, loss of plane tickets, hotels… From the health department from my community, Castilla-La Mancha, I do not They provide a solution, since they do not answer the phone or the incident mail. We are faced with an administrative and legal vacuum in which we are the injured parties and our fundamental rights by restricting our free movement, ”he explains.
To avoid all these problems of movement within the country and access to services such as hotels or restaurants, as well as the uncertainty of the use of each document, Raúl decided to change his destination. He and his wife had been vaccinated since July and had been diagnosed with antigen self-testing in mid-January at his home, they were due to fly to Florence in a few days, but they decided to cancel the trip and go to Paris. . “I don’t understand why they don’t give you the certificate. It’s not that I didn’t do the PCR because I didn’t want tobut because Health left me no choice”, he underlines.