Supermarkets in France are to sell Covid self-tests until January 31, as demand rises over the continuing holiday period and cases continue to soar.
The government has just given supermarkets authorisation for the sale of self-tests, but only until the end of January 2022.
The decree, published in le Journal Officiel, states: “Within the context of the significant rise in the incidence rate, due to the spread of the Delta and Omicron variants, and unprecedented rise in demand for tests, there is good reason to diversify supply chains and sales of self-tests.”
Supermarkets have been calling for the right to sell the tests for months, which otherwise are only available in pharmacies.
The tests should [awaiting official confirmation] be available in major supermarkets including Carrefour, Système U, E. Leclerc, Intermarché and Netto.
Supermarket bosses have welcomed the decision. Head of Système U, Dominique Schelcher, said that “things have indeed moved forwards”, while Michel-Edouard Leclerc, head of Leclerc, said: “[Prime Minister] Jean Castex has taken a fair and good decision”.
He said “Our teams will show they can rise to the challenge, alongside pharmacists.”
Vente #Autotest Covid en grande surface : @JeanCASTEX a pris une décision juste et utile. Nos équipes se montreront à la hauteur des enjeux, aux côtés des pharmaciens d'officine. https://t.co/ltJeDHpOQm vendra les autotests à prix coutant. #TousMobilises— Michel-Edouard Leclerc (@Leclerc_MEL) December 28, 2021
The shops are set to sell the tests at cost price, which is expected to be €2 or less per test, half the price as in pharmacies.
It comes as Gilles Bonnefond, spokesperson for pharmacist union, l'Union des syndicats de pharmaciens d'officine (USPO), said that “58% of pharmacies have a lack of stock”.
He told le Journal du Dimanche that pharmacies had sold as many self-tests since December 15 as they had in the previous five months, and were “under pressure”.
Yet, some pharmacists are against the plan to sell tests in supermarkets.
Philippe Denry, vice-president of pharmaceutical union la Fédération des Syndicats Pharmaceutiques de France (FSPF), said on Twitter: “The sale of these tests in major supermarkets is a ‘false good idea’. Self-testing without monitoring gives a false sense of security and leads to false negatives.”
It comes as France announced 11 new measures to combat the fifth wave of Covid, with both the Delta and Omicron strains causing as many as 100,000 new cases on December 24.
However, the most recent figures (December 27) show 30,383 new cases in the past 24 hours, and a test positivity rate of 8.2%. The R number (above 1 means the virus is spreading) is currently at 1.1.
Of the tests taken and sequenced in the week of December 13, 84.3% were of the Delta variant.