Satisfying the government’s vaccine strategy, Renaud Muselier, the president of the French regions, asks that anyone can buy self-tests for saliva.
How do you assess the Prime Minister’s vaccination strategy?
RENAUD MUSELIER. I understand this is a copy and paste of the German state-based methodology. This is a good thing, and that is what the regions have asked for. Its implementation will be the subject of regional co-pilots between the regional prefect, the director general of the Regional Health Agency (ARS) and the regional president. It is a huge change in health policy that we have been calling for since February.
Are you getting vaccinated?
Yes, when it’s my turn. I’m taking the Moderna lab vaccine, which relies on messenger RNA. I know his boss very well, Stéphane Bancel, who is from Marseille. And I trust the Marseillais!
The government has announced several large-scale screening campaigns. What do you think ?
To be honest, I am quite cautious about this, because if you detect a population en masse, clusters are not taken into account. We test waste water in the South region, which makes it possible to identify clusters and even trace them back to a building block or a nursing home. This allows you to be a week ahead of the transmission of the virus and walk ahead of the virus and not behind it.
Are you afraid of the Christmas period?
Undoubtedly, it is a moment when the French will meet, embrace … and therefore a moment of potential recovery from the epidemic. 95% of people who die of Covid are over 60 and 61% are over 80. Millions of French people will therefore want to be tested before joining their elders. We must anticipate and provide the resources to all those who want to be tested the week before December 24th.
Not everyone will be able to be tested by the traditional PCR route, which would lead to laboratory congestion. I propose a massive and temporary enhancement of our screening capabilities to pharmacies through antigenic testing. There are 22,500 pharmacies in France, located all over the country, in urban and rural areas. They are therefore a unique health weapon. Before the party is good, the cotton swab!
But some pharmacies are unwilling or unable to do these tests …
Half of the pharmacies have been doing this since October. 150,000 people were thus screened in pharmacies. Today’s problem is mainly the insufficient number of tests. We need to flood pharmacies with rapid tests and avoid the shortage. For my part, I have 100,000 antigenic tests that I will be making available to 1,850 pharmacies in my area next week.
Antigenic tests are not always reliable …
Reliability is 85% anyway! Better an antigen test than no test at all. I’m also asking for ministerial permission so that anyone can buy saliva self-tests. This would make Christmas Eve even safer.
What do you think of Jean Castex’s recommendation not to be more than six people per family on Christmas Eve?
I think he is right. I, who have a large and mixed family, will not see my whole family at once!
In the United States, the epidemic appears to have recovered after the Thanksgiving holiday. Wouldn’t it be smarter to test after the holidays?
If we screen afterwards, it will be too late. The goal is to avoid that. And I don’t like the comparison to the United States: Half of the country listened to Mr. Trump and didn’t want to hide or isolate themselves …