France issues list of reliable coronavirus blood tests

The French health ministry has published an official list of “approved” and reliable blood tests for coronavirus antibodies, which can now be prescribed by GPs and reimbursed by the State.

28 May 2020
Coronavirus Covid-19 blood tests. Antibody blood tests may now be prescribed and reimbursed by the French StateAntibody blood tests may now be prescribed and reimbursed by the State, with priority initially given for healthcare workers
By Connexion journalist

These tests have been approved for public use by national centre le Centre National de Référence, and have therefore been deemed reliable. The full list of approved tests can be seen on the government website here.

The website also explains which antibodies each test can look for, and when the test should be done (for example, 14 days after symptoms appear).

Of the 30 tests considered, 23 were approved. Of these, seven are called “Elisa” tests, meaning that they take a few hours to return results; and 16 are “rapid”, meaning that they return results within a few minutes.

(Image: covid-19.sante.gouv.fr / Ministère des Solidarités et de la Santé / Screenshot)

A decree to officially legalise the use of the approved tests is expected from the minister of health imminently.

Healthcare workers will be first in line to receive reimbursements, but the government has yet to say who else will benefit from the State-paid approved tests.

Health authority La Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS) has recommended that blood tests be given as a priority to people who have had symptoms of Covid-19 in recent weeks, and who did not receive the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) swab test at the time.

The HAS also said that blood tests should be prioritised for people who work in elderly care homes and closed accommodation centres, even if they have not had symptoms.

Without reimbursement, the tests cost between €30 and €60 at local medical testing labs.

Read more: Thousands seek antibody blood tests in France

If the blood test used by your local lab is not on the official list, it either means that it is still under evaluation, or that it has not been approved.

Blood tests are different to PCR tests, as they do not check to see if the patient is infected with the virus SARS-CoV-2 (which causes Covid-19) at the time of testing.

Instead, they test to see if the blood plasma contains antibodies against the virus (including IgG and IgM, depending on the test), and therefore have some level of immunity against a second infection.

However, there is still a lack of medical consensus on the level of immunity, its effectiveness against further infection, and how long immunity might last.

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