Covid: Self-tests in pharmacies, a "new weapon" who struggles to impose

Sold individually or in boxes of five, the self-tests are struggling to find buyers in many pharmacies. Illustrative image.

SCREENING – The enthusiasm for self-tests? “Not huge”, sums up Pierre, in his forties, pharmacist near the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. The latter sold a box at 30 euros this Wednesday morning, five since April 30, when he received his first stock. The remaining seven lots – containing five do-it-yourself Covid-19 tests – have not found a taker.

Elsewhere, this observation is repeated. A month after their arrival in France, the self-tests are struggling to impose themselves. Since April 12, 914,000 self-tests have been sold in pharmacies, according to the IQVIA database, a benchmark in the health field. This is little, compared to the number of tests delivered by suppliers, “between 1.5 and 2 million in pharmacies, everywhere on the territory”, specifies the Ministry of Health, questioned by the HuffPost.

Less reliable and unrecognized tests for flying

A modest assessment, given the epidemiological situation but without surprises for Philippe Besset, president of the Federation of Pharmaceutical Unions (FSPF): “Customers want a negative result to be entered on the health pass to take the plane or access Hobbies. The self-test does not allow it ”, he testifies for the HuffPost.

Self-tests are relatively less reliable than those in an analytical laboratory or in a center, in particular because at home, it is possible to make a mistake in the execution of the screening. Thus, only PCR or antigenic tests are valid. The results of the self-tests are not even counted, but it will soon be possible to know how many positive PCRs were carried out thanks to a first individual screening.

“It is a complement to the screening strategy. We sell them all the same, but it is not the Alpha and the Omega ”, relativizes Philippe Besset, not very excited. Indeed, even if they are effective in the fight against Covid-19 and less invasive than PCR and antigens, according to the opinions of the Scientific Council and the High Authority of Health, these tests are not intended to be impose or replace other devices.

First, because the tool is not intended for symptomatic people. The latter must imperatively undergo a classic screening with health professionals, to avoid a misdiagnosis which would risk allowing the disease to spread.

From this perspective, a decree allows pharmacists to refuse sale to symptomatic people. Hence their absence from supermarkets, where such control is more difficult to implement, to the chagrin mass distribution, which has increased media coverage in recent weeks, to carve out a market share and facilitate access to this product.

Self-test for family trips?

“Self-tests make it possible to identify infections in populations that are difficult to reach. The asymptomatic but also people who, for geographical or social reasons, do not have access to conventional screening ”, explains to HuffPost Cédric Carbonneil, head of the professional acts evaluation service of the Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS).

Presented as “a new weapon for monitoring the pandemic” by Jean Castex, the tool – now usable even before the age of 15 if the test is supervised by parents – is mainly intended for schools, the main focus of asymptomatic people. But it remains useful for the general public to reduce the risks that we make people around us, especially if it contains fragile people.

The self-test is an additional option so that “everyone” is the guarantor of their “responsibility”, this is the new slogan of the government on the occasion of the second stage of deconfinement and reopening of May 19. ”We wish a little higher enthusiasm on the eve of the Ascension Bridge, the occasion of family and friendly gatherings. Self-testing the same day is a way of approaching these events more calmly, without obviously ruling out barrier gestures ”, explains Cédric Carbonneil.

At the pharmacy in the Jardin des Plantes, hardly any preparations were made. We do not expect a rush on the self-tests for the weekend. “Six euros for the test. The price is discouraging, ”says Lydia, another pharmacist. Social security does not reimburse this device, unlike the others. On May 15 – in the middle of the four-day weekend – the self-tests will go through a decree at 5.20 euros per unit, still with 0% VAT. What to revive the craze?

See also on Then24: in this private American school, the children carry out the tests themselves

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