Covid-19 antigen tests available soon in French pharmacies

The 15-minute tests will be in 50% of pharmacies within two weeks as daily Covid-19 figures rise to new heights

3 November 2020
By Joanna York

Rapid antigen tests will be available in 50% of French pharmacies by the end of next week (November 13) pharmacists’ union, l’Union de syndicats de pharmaciens d’officine (USPO) has said. 

The tests can give results confirming whether or not someone has Covid-19 within 15 minutes. 

Some pharmacies equipped with tests already

Almost 80% of pharmacies in France have ordered the tests, 40% have received them already, and 10% are currently using the tests, the USPO said.

It added that 40% of pharmacies will be make the tests available by the end of this week (November 5) with more to follow the week after.

Read more about rapid antigen tests in the latest edition of The Connexion, available online.

Tests can be booked by appointment

Rapid antigen tests do not require a prescription. They are taken by nasal swab. 

Gilled Bonnefond, president of USPO told news source FranceInfo: “When you have made an appointment [for the test] at the pharmacy, you will be asked to fill in a document with your contact details so they can identify who has taken the test. 

“Within 15 minutes you know if you are positive or negative.”

Pharmacists administering tests will wear personal protective equipment (PPE) including a medical coat, plastic cap, mask, visor and gloves.


GPs not equipped for tests 

General practitioners in France are less prepared to administer rapid antigen tests as they are not equipped with PPE, and doing so would negatively impact their regular schedules.

Dr Jérôme Marty, GP and president of doctors’ union UFML told FranceInfo: “The first problem is that the patient examination space [in doctors’ surgeries] is sometimes not adapted to a test which should be non-contaminating.

“The second problem is all the means of protection. That means dressing [in PPE] to administer the test, then changing if another patient comes with another issue, then re-dressing when a new patient comes for a test.

“We see that the amount of time it would take to give tests would impact considerably on the daily work that doctors do.”

Doctors in France are calling for dedicated Covid centres to open, where rapid antigen tests could be administered with proper space and equipment.

New daily Covid figures reach record highs

Figures from health body Santé publique France released yesterday (November 2) revealed that daily Covid figures reached new highs in the previous 24 hours.

52,518 new cases of Covid were recorded, the highest daily figure since 52,010 cases on October 25.

For the first time since April, hospitals in France registered more than 400 deaths in 24 hours. 

There are currently 3,730 patients with Covid-19 in intensive care in France, meaning 152 more than in the 24 hours prior. There are just under 5,800 intensive care beds in France in total.

The total number of people currently hospitalised with Covid-19 in France is 25,143.

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