The new school health protocol encourages the use of self-tests for students with contact cases. But with tens of thousands of cases per day, stocks could be running low.
10,000 classes closed, tens of thousands of positive students… The school has been overwhelmed by the Omicron variant since the start of the school year. It is in this context that Prime Minister Jean Castex announced a new school health protocol which gives pride of place to self-tests.
Now, if there is a case of Covid in a class, each student will have to undergo three self-tests instead of a PCR or antigen test in a pharmacy and laboratory. A first test the same day, then two other tests on D + 2 and D + 4.
With the multiplication of the number of cases, it is indeed the traffic jam in pharmacies and laboratories to be tested. Since mid-December, we have gone from 1 to 1.5 million PCR and antigen tests per day.
To ensure that everyone will find their rapid diagnostic test (RDT) as professionals call them, the Prime Minister announced the delivery within the week of 11 million self-tests in pharmacies. Families will be entitled to three self-tests paid for per child in the event of contact.
The government ensures that with 11 million, the demand should be covered. However, with the number of positive cases high, demand is expected to increase sharply with the new protocol.
20% of self-tests made in France
According to data from Public Health France, there are around 90,000 positive cases per day among 0-20 year olds. If 80% are in school, this represents 60,000 cases per day in schools. If the 25 other students in the class must obtain a self-test every day, that represents a need of 1.5 million per day and 10.5 million over a week, or nearly all of the self-tests expected in pharmacies this week. Not to mention those sold to adults. Many pharmacies currently claim to be out of stock.
“We are going to have an important acceleration phase with the new protocol, recognizes Pascal Fontaine, the purchasing manager of the Lafayette pharmacy network. The situation is currently extremely tense. We are obliged to supply ourselves a lot in Asia. But with the new one. Chinese year is coming, there may be supply difficulties. “
France certainly produces self-tests, but in insufficient numbers. The country has five main producers: BioSpeedia, AAZ, NG Biotech, Biosynex and Biogyne.
“French companies produce around 20% of the self-tests sold in France, estimates Jean-Philippe Massadier, president of DTF Medical, which distributes the self-tests for the company BioSpeedia. To produce more, they would have to launch new production lines this time. which is expensive and takes about 8 months. “
The Breton company NG Biotech for example which manufactures 5 million per month could multiply by five its production per production and create 1000 jobs.
“We need to create a third factory and that will represent around 1,000 jobs, assures Europe 1 Milovan Stankov-Pugès, CEO of NG Biotech. We need firm and irrevocable orders. We cannot afford to manufacture 50 million tests and crossing your fingers, see what happens … “
Like all companies in the sector, it demands visibility from the State and firm public orders so as not to end up with stocks on hand once the health crisis has passed.