Christmas 2020 will be remembered forever as the Christmas of the pandemic (fingers crossed so that 2021 does not carry the same label), something that requires extreme precautions in the case of families who plan to reunite, or even leave that dinner for later and give up a family Christmas Eve as tradition dictates to avoid contagion by asymptomatic patients, especially towards older members.
In the case of those who do plan to share a table on the night of the 24th, there are those who will do so as long as the PCR test carried out just before gives a negative result, because that is their plan: go to dinner with the test done. We have spoken with some of them from Xataka .
The 22 PCR and the 24 prawns
“My mother is an anesthetist, the pandemic has passed working in the ICU, and at home we are very conscious. We are 18 cousins and we will not all be able to meet, so we will go to visit my grandparents in shifts: about the 24th, others on the 25th, others on New Years, Kings, etc “, explains Marta Díaz de Santos.
“My mother suggested in the family chat that we all do a PCR before going to see them, since they are over 80 years old. In the end, a lot of people will come and go from that house, five couples and the 18 grandchildren. PCR tests because they are the most reliable, serologicalif you don’t have symptoms they can give false negatives; my mother yesterday had a case of a negative serological that later gave a positive PCR without symptoms. The problem is that it is expensive and you have to wait a day or two. It is clear that if the serological test is positive it is that you have COVID. And if there are symptoms, it will test positive. The idea is to do it 48 hours before going on a trip, and lock ourselves up without leaving, “he concludes to explain his family plan for this visit in shifts.” It’s a lot of money and we will have to cut back on other things, but it will be worth it to have in exchange a somewhat calmer Christmas. “In any case, it is important to differentiate between a PCR test, whose positive means that you are a carrier of the disease, and a serological or antigenic test, which indicates whether the disease has already passed .
And if they all test negative on the PCR result, will the attitude regarding physical contact and ventilation be more like that of 2019 – absolute unconcern – or the average meetings of 2020? “If we all test negative, I will give my grandmother a hug with a FFP2 mask, but we will still be much more restrained and we will have everything ventilated,” says Marta.
Rafael Coupeau, a 19-year-old student, is in a similar situation: his family will undergo a PCR test when his grandmother travels from Menorca to Valladolid to be able to spend Christmas Eve with her, who will also do a PCR test both upon arrival and upon his return . “It is my grandmother who comes to Valladolid because she insisted on that,” Rafael explains.
“We are not going to hug her as a joke or anything, it will be a rare Christmas, but it is what it is. The test will be done by his brothers, his parents and a cousin with whom they will also spend the holidays. “The best thing would be for us to be the closest to Menorca and not the other way around, but she insisted.”
Their plan is to take the test on December 20 or 21, and once they have the results on December 22, which will already be on vacation, “move the least . ” “My brother and I will do especially the shopping issue, we are the most careful with all this. It makes no sense to do it right now because my little brothers continue to go to school, so we will try to do it the same day they finish the classes”.
Myriam Grau, an Andorran resident in Barcelona, will also do a PCR in private health with her sister to meet with her parents and grandparents. “If in Andorra they let us be ten people, perhaps we will add cousins and uncles. We will take the test five days before, in Andorra they make you stay at home for four days before taking the test, we will spend a few days confined and then we will do it , the result will be in less than 48 hours “.
Ana Arjona lives in Madrid, but she is originally from Algeciras, where she will meet her parents and her sister, also after a test. “Above all, we are more concerned about infecting them than they are about us. If they infect us, well, bad luck. Because they take great care of going out and are both retired, but we have a relatively more active life. Hitting them with the disease It would be a chore for them who are at risk because they are older, I couldn’t forgive myself, the truth, “he explains.
He adds that he will do it 24 or 48 hours later before the trip from Madrid, which he will do by train in a seat where no one can go to his side . Your sister will do the same before traveling.
The scientific community on Christmas PCRs
In these testimonies we have found both PCR and antigen tests, the latter being the most likely to offer a false positive, especially in asymptomatic cases , which are in turn the most common profiles that will undergo this test: people without any symptoms that they prefer to be certain that they are not carriers of the virus so as not to expose their relatives to it.
The most common term to speak of this idea, “possible false sense of security”; if it is fought, a PCR and a previous isolation are tools that add
The researcher Juliet Bryan, a WHO consultant, explained in a study published in the journal Science Immunology that these serological tests indicate whether a person has been exposed to the virus or not, but they are insufficient to certify the immunity of the person who performs it . He added that “there would be a lot of false positives if these antibody tests were done widely now, when seroprevalence is still very low in most places.”
In the case of PCR, the result takes between 24 and 48 hours to be known, a time in which we can become infected before receiving a negative result. “That gives false security. In a family dinner this can be really problematic because we would not take action when we think we are negative,” explained Javier del Águila . Something that gives meaning to the idea of Rafael and Myriam, who spoke of confining themselves after having done the PCR to avoid contagion after the test.
For this sense of false security Pablo Motos was criticized, who in his program ‘El Hormiguero’ said that “this Christmas, the best gift you can give your family is a PCR to have quiet dinner.”
Vicente Larraga, a CSIC researcher, said in the newscast ‘Hora 14’ of Cadena SER that “at least the previous ten days you have to try to confine yourself so that when you arrive with your family you are sure that you are not going to infect them, that would be practical love. ” That is, since at least December 14. Same advice given by the epidemiologist Margarita del Val : “staying ten days without being in contact with anyone is the most effective measure to sit at the table with the family with more guarantees of safety”.
Juliet Bryan reaffirmed that “having a positive test (in an antigen test) could give people a sense of security and, therefore, they could stop physically distancing themselves or they could not be cautious enough”, thus sending an appeal to do not relax protective measures such as constant ventilation of the dinner place, social distancing and no physical contact .