Lyon trials Covid immunity tests before jabs to avoid waste

Anyone who has already had Covid-19 needs only one dose of a vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated

15 June 2021
A rapid Covid-19 serological test

A vaccination centre in Lyon is trialing rapid serological tests on certain patients to see if they have already had Covid-19 Pic: Cryptographer / Shutterstock

A Covid-19 vaccination centre in Lyon is running a trial to test if patients have already unknowingly had the virus and therefore require only one vaccine dose.

The patients have the option to take a rapid serological test, in the form of a blood sample, to determine if they already have antibodies. These tests are known as rapid diagnostic orientation tests.

If it is found that the patient has already had Covid-19, then they will only need one vaccine dose in total, under guidelines set out by France’s Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS) on February 11.

The aim of the trial, which began yesterday (June 14) at the vaccination centre at the Palais des Sports de Gerland, is to see if France can further optimise its vaccination campaign and reduce the number of doses given. If the trial is a success, it could be rolled out to other vaccination centres in the country.

The rapid serological tests are mainly being offered to those aged under 30 or those who declare that they have been ill recently without proof of having had Covid-19.

The launch of the trial comes after the HAS published a report on June 3 recommending the use of rapid serological tests on healthy patients before they are vaccinated. 

“It is estimated that 23% of the population has been infected [with Covid-19] while only 8% have had PCR or antigen tests to prove it,” the HAS states.

“It would therefore be useful to identify all those who have been infected without knowing it: this would simplify the vaccination schedule for those concerned, and better protect the population as a whole by vaccinating several million more people more quickly in the slots and with the doses thus freed up.”

The HAS recommends the antibody tests be carried out in people likely to have good immune systems and who have no known history of Covid-19, in particular young adults. 

It also notes that the protection provided by a single vaccine dose to a person who has already had Covid-19 is greater than the protection provided to a person who receives two doses and has no history of Covid-19 infection. 

“This is true regardless of how long the infection has been present,” the HAS states. 

Read more:

France opens up Covid-19 vaccinations to 12 to 17-year-olds

‘90% vaccination needed for herd immunity in France’

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