Wednesday, 26 January, 2022

Coronavirus: under pressure, the government accelerates on rapid tests


A decree taken this Wednesday by Olivier Véran allows regional health agencies to set up collective screening operations by antigen test. Professionals consider this movement hasty.

Antigenic tests help to guide the diagnosis, but not to establish it.

He’s under pressure. The Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, on Wednesday issued an order authorizing the regional health agencies to set up rapid screening operations for the coronavirus, with antigenic tests. These are nasopharyngeal swabs, like PCR tests, but do not need to be sent to the lab for analysis.

Urgent action is needed as the epidemic regains ground. France is now the third country in Europe that screens the most people, with 1 million tests per week, but the positivity rates are climbing and the delays are lengthening to access the tests. Because of these failures, Olivier Véran suffered the remonstrances of the Head of State on Friday, during the Defense Council.

Read also:

CQFD> Covid-19: PCR, saliva, serology …, the tests in five questions

The Minister therefore decided not to wait for the opinion of learned societies and the High Authority of Health before putting on the market these antigenic tests, tested for a few days by the Assistance publique-Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP) . It will be done “Exceptionally and in the interest of health protection”, specifies the decree. Those tested should be informed that this is only a “diagnostic orientation” test. If they are positive, they will need to confirm this by performing a PCR test.

In addition, symptomatic people and “contact cases” identified by Medicare should not be treated by antigenic tests, because they are priority audiences. They must therefore be detected by PCR – a technology whose reliability is proven and sanctioned by the authorities. In addition, they now benefit from dedicated schedules or from a priority-queue in the laboratories.

Read also:

Follow the day-to-day evolution of the epidemic indicators in France

INFOGRAPHIES> The evolution of the coronavirus in France

Decreased productivity

For François Blanchecotte, president of the National Center for Health Professions, the authorization of antigenic tests is a bit rushed. “We must be careful before authorizing new tests”, he repeats. Apart from the AP-HP, which ordered 100,000 tests from a Korean manufacturer, no one is ready. “Anyway, since there is no provision for reimbursement, we cannot invoice. So we are not going to buy any ”, explains the one who is also president of the union of biologists.

François Blanchecotte judges that by going to antigenic tests, we are going to take a step back in terms of productivity: “I am not going to put my technicians to manually read colored strips when machines have been set up to automate and speed up treatments!” “ he exclaims.

New machines ordered

Since it is no longer necessary to have a medical prescription to be tested, access to PCR tests is stalled. But the professional is hopeful that things will unblock with the establishment of access priorities and the arrival of new machines, recently ordered. “We will be ready in a fortnight. We have hired a lot and are doing 3 × 8 ”, he recalls. After going very quickly from 500,000 to 1 million tests per week, biologists are now considering the 1.5 million mark.

Read also:

Coronavirus: major cities on alert in France

Sanitary screw tower in Gironde and Bouches-du-Rhône

A decree taken this Wednesday by Olivier Véran allows regional health agencies to set up collective screening operations by antigen test. Professionals consider this movement hasty.

Antigenic tests help to guide the diagnosis, but not to establish it.

He’s under pressure. The Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, on Wednesday issued an order authorizing the regional health agencies to set up rapid screening operations for the coronavirus, with antigenic tests. These are nasopharyngeal swabs, like PCR tests, but do not need to be sent to the lab for analysis.

Urgent action is needed as the epidemic regains ground. France is now the third country in Europe that screens the most people, with 1 million tests per week, but the positivity rates are climbing and the delays are lengthening to access the tests. Because of these failures, Olivier Véran suffered the remonstrances of the Head of State on Friday, during the Defense Council.

Read also:

CQFD> Covid-19: PCR, saliva, serology …, the tests in five questions

The Minister therefore decided not to wait for the opinion of learned societies and the High Authority of Health before putting on the market these antigenic tests, tested for a few days by the Assistance publique-Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP) . It will be done “Exceptionally and in the interest of health protection”, specifies the decree. Those tested should be informed that this is only a “diagnostic orientation” test. If they are positive, they will need to confirm this by performing a PCR test.

In addition, symptomatic people and “contact cases” identified by Medicare should not be treated by antigenic tests, because they are priority audiences. They must therefore be detected by PCR – a technology whose reliability is proven and sanctioned by the authorities. In addition, they now benefit from dedicated schedules or from a priority-queue in the laboratories.

Read also:

Follow the day-to-day evolution of the epidemic indicators in France

INFOGRAPHIES> The evolution of the coronavirus in France

Decreased productivity

For François Blanchecotte, president of the National Center for Health Professions, the authorization of antigenic tests is a bit rushed. “We must be careful before authorizing new tests”, he repeats. Apart from the AP-HP, which ordered 100,000 tests from a Korean manufacturer, no one is ready. “Anyway, since there is no provision for reimbursement, we cannot invoice. So we are not going to buy any ”, explains the one who is also president of the union of biologists.

François Blanchecotte judges that by going to antigenic tests, we are going to take a step back in terms of productivity: “I am not going to put my technicians to manually read colored strips when machines have been set up to automate and speed up treatments!” “ he exclaims.

New machines ordered

Since it is no longer necessary to have a medical prescription to be tested, access to PCR tests is stalled. But the professional is hopeful that things will unblock with the establishment of access priorities and the arrival of new machines, recently ordered. “We will be ready in a fortnight. We have hired a lot and are doing 3 × 8 ”, he recalls. After going very quickly from 500,000 to 1 million tests per week, biologists are now considering the 1.5 million mark.

Read also:

Coronavirus: major cities on alert in France

Sanitary screw tower in Gironde and Bouches-du-Rhône