Promised from Monday April 12 and sold only in pharmacies, the self-tests for Covid-19 are very practical.
They avoid the obligation to make an appointment with the pharmacist to benefit from an antigen test - free - which can be painful because of the deep nasophyaryngeal swab, unlike the self-test.
This allows you to know, in the privacy of your home, in less than half an hour, whether or not you are positive for Sars-CoV-2.
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On the other hand, in the event of symptoms suggestive of Covid-19, it is recommended to be tested directly by PCR in the laboratory, or by an antigen test in a pharmacy.
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The instructions for use of each self-test, written on its user manual, must be followed to the letter.
For the moment, six brands (AAZ, BioSynex, Parnassia, Siemens, Swiss Point of Care and JSE) offer seven tests in France which are authorized by exemption by the Ministry of Health.
Others should follow.
Some contain a QRCode which links to a video on the internet which indicates how to use the small swab, to be inserted between 2 and 4 centimeters in one of the two nostrils before turning it at least five times.
It is also specified how many drops of a liquid intended for this purpose must be added to the sample and how to read the result, according to the line or lines that appear on the small device, a kind of plastic cassette.
This ease of use has been evaluated for each self-test by the Medicines Agency (ANSM) before it indicates to the government whether or not the test could be marketed in France.
But the intrinsic performance of each has not been verified by an independent body.
They will be confirmed in the coming months.
However, the Haute Autorité de santé has imposed minimum performance levels for each self-test, which must be 99% specific and have a sensitivity of more than 80%.
Clearly, this means that if the self-test is positive, there is a very high probability that the person is a carrier of the coronavirus (there is less than 1% of “false positive”).
On the other hand, if it is negative, you should be wary of the result: it can be a false negative, the person still being infected.
In both cases, it will remain necessary to maintain the barrier gestures.
Between 5 and 10 euros per unit
This level of reliability, comparable to but a little lower than the antigen test done in pharmacies, will reduce the risk of infecting vulnerable people.
The lower reliability of the self-test can be compensated by repeating it regularly, once or twice a week.
The self-tests are inexpensive (between 5 and 10 euros per unit) and several manufacturers plan to sell them in boxes of five.
However, the reimbursement conditions are not finalized.
Certain groups of people, in particular home help for the elderly or disabled, should benefit from reimbursement by the Sickness Insurance Fund.
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The government is asking that the positive results be confirmed by a more reliable PCR test in an analytical laboratory.
The Ministry of Health will then be able to count all the people carrying the virus and determine the variant in question.
However, this constraint risks being counterproductive, because instead of isolating themselves, these suspected patients will have to leave their homes and risk, as a result, infecting other people on their way to the laboratory!