June 30, 2022

Covid-19: when and how to get tested before Christmas

TESTS – Only a few days left before the Christmas holidays. Faced with the Covid-19 epidemic, which the Omicron variant could further worsen, many French people want to carry out a screening test for Covid-19 before reuniting with their loved ones for the end of the year holidays.

In an opinion delivered this weekend, the Scientific Council alerted the government to the risks of these festivities, insisting in particular on the importance of being tested. But when should it be done? Which choice to make between the self-test, the antigen test or PCR? And what are the places where it is possible to achieve them? The HuffPost answers your questions.

As regards the timing, the Scientific Council recommends being screened by a self-test on the “day of the event” or by an antigen test, “the day before or the same day”. Indeed, these two types of tests make it possible to obtain a rapid result – approximately 15 minutes – while the times for a PCR result are rather between 24 hours and 48 hours.

Although the self-tests and antigenic tests seem more suitable for the holidays, they have a major drawback: their reliability (especially the self-test) is lower than the PCRs. “The antigenic tests must have a minimum sensitivity and specificity of 80% and 99% respectively, according to an opinion of the HAS published in September 2020, that is to say a risk of 1 in 5 of false negative result and a risk of 1 in 100 of false positive result, note our colleagues.

In short, it is possible to perform a PCR test a few days before the holidays to obtain a reliable result, but it is strongly recommended to do another test, antigenic or self-test, on the day of the event. It should be noted, however, that if the latter is positive, its result must absolutely be confirmed by a PCR test.

  • Pharmacies, labs: where to get tested?

Then comes the question of the place: where to carry out these tests? For the self-tests, it’s simple, they are sold at 5.20 euros per unit in pharmacies and therefore have the advantage of being able to be carried out anytime and anywhere.

It is also advisable, for those who wish, to quickly obtain self-tests because the demand for other types of tests “will reach its peak before the holiday meals, when we have staff on leave, believes Morgane Moulis. , vice-president of the union of medical biologists, interviewed by LCI. On a practical level, we are reaching certain limits ”.

For antigen tests, many pharmacies offer to perform them with or without an appointment, indoors or in a tent outdoors. They are free for vaccinated people on presentation of the health pass and a vital card and otherwise cost a minimum of 22 euros.

PCR tests are usually performed in medical analysis laboratories, but some pharmacies also offer them. They are also free for vaccinated people and otherwise cost a minimum of 44 euros.

  • If you are in contact

If you are in contact or have symptoms of Covid-19, you should in both cases get tested immediately. For contact cases, a second test should be carried out “7 days after the last contact with the sick person or 17 days after the onset of symptoms or the sample if you share their home”.

An isolation period must be observed if it is a contact with the Omicron variant, as indicated by Medicare.

The incidence rate of Covid-19 reached “once again a record” in France, at 537 cases per week per 100,000 inhabitants, warned this Tuesday, December 21, Gabriel Attal, who assures the government “does not rule out going beyond ”the measures in force by December 31.

The Omicron variant “arrives”, with probably more than 10% of contaminations linked to it, even much more in Île-de-France, and even more in Paris, where it is now responsible for “more than one in three contamination. ”, According to Gabriel Attal.

See also on The HuffPost: Covid: The variant discovered in South Africa worries researchers but your priority is elsewhere