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Cost, instructions for use, reliability, self-tests on sale in pharmacies since Tuesday

Since Tuesday, it is possible to get self-tests in pharmacies to test yourself for Covid-19. The Federal Medicines Agency has authorized the sale of self-tests from two manufacturers to individuals. They are sold at a price of 8 euros and 1 euro for the BIM, the beneficiaries of the increased intervention. But beware, these tests are not 100% reliable.

Only two types of tests currently available

The FAMHP (Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products) has so far authorized the marketing in pharmacies of only two self-test models. These are those manufactured by Roche and Biosynex. For self-tests for SARS-CoV-2 antigens to be authorized in pharmacies, they would have to be CE marked. However, as the FAMHP explains on its site, there is not yet a single self-test of this type on the European market which benefits from this marking. “Therefore, only tests for professional use, which meet strict requirements and have been verified by the FAMHP, can be sold to individuals.“, explains the FAMHP. In the coming weeks or months, other self-test models should be authorized for sale.

A self-test costs 8 euros. For BIM people, beneficiaries of the increased intervention, the cost will be 1 euro, with a maximum of two tests per week.

Limited stock, for the moment

This morning, in a pharmacy in the capital where our film crews went, there were customers to buy these tests, customers anxious to be reassured and to protect those around them. “For me, this is a preventive goal. I have interactions with older people, people at greater risk, my parents, my grandparents, especially now during holidays. It is to be able to verify that I am not positive and not at risk ” explains a client.

As for pharmacists, not all are able to supply their customers, for lack of having been delivered. If a large chain of pharmacies confirms having stock after ordering 40,000 self-tests, all pharmacies are not housed in the same boat. They are eagerly awaited. We have been receiving a lot of calls in this regard for a week. But we ask customers to be patient because the wholesalers are being delivered and it takes a while for it to be dispatched to the pharmacy “, explains Nadine Sinkam, pharmacist in Schaerbeek.

For his part, Yvan Verougstraete, the managing director of Medi-Market regrets the government’s lack of preparation. “On is a large group, we organized ourselves to have the tests fairly quickly. We struggled in all directions. But it’s a shame then that we’ve been talking about these tests for months, that all of a sudden, the government is saying to itself on the 6th, it will be there and that there is no consultation with the sector. Pharmacists, small pharmacists, who will have trouble getting them, patients who arrive, to whom we don’t know how to give anything, it’s a bit of a shame. It was possible to do otherwise “, he regrets.

How do these tests work?

As these are self-tests, the person for whom the self-test is purchased will take the sample and read the result. For the sample, a swab, some kind of cotton swab, should be inserted into the nostrils at a depth of 2 to 4 cm, which is much less than the 8 to 10 cm of the swabs from the PCR tests. Autotest swabs are also larger than PCR swabs.

“It is important to apply it correctly in the first couple of centimeters, to turn well, to one side and then to the other four times. It should at least last 10 to 15 seconds.”, explains a pharmacist.

The self-test then works similar to that of a pregnancy test. The rod is introduced into a small bottle filled with liquid and four drops are poured onto a support. The result, positive or negative, appears within 15 to 30 minutes.

It is expected that pharmacists will inform the purchaser of the use of the self-test.

Lower reliability than PCR tests

The PCR test, that performed in screening centers and hospitals, remains the most reliable of the tests. It requires laboratory analysis and usually it takes several hours or even one to two days to know the result.

With a result known in less than half an hour, the self-test has everything to seduce. However, it is not as reliable as a PCR test. It is estimated to have an 80% reliability in symptomatic people. This means that in a patient with symptoms such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing or a runny nose, if it is Covid-19, the self-test will detect it in 8 out of 10 cases. asymptomatic people, there is a risk that the self-test will be negative. This is also what the Coronavirus Commission confirms. “A self-test only detects infection when it is at its peak, at its peak, while a PCR test can detect the entire course of the infection, including at the very beginning and at the end of it. here. So, be careful. A negative self-test does not exclude that you are infected or will become contagious for those close to you “, explains Carole Schirvel, deputy commissioner for the fight against the Coronavirus

Test Achats had already sounded the alarm. “The test only gives a positive result for people who shed a lot of virus particles, and therefore does not detect newly infected people “a explained Julie Frère, spokesperson for Test Achats. “If the consumer does not take the test correctly, the result can also be negative”, she had explained. “This is why even a negative result does not exempt consumers from complying with measures, such as respecting social distancing and wearing a mask. It is a message that is not easy to grasp, and which therefore risks creating a false sense of security “, Julie Frère added, fearing that the arrival on the market of these self-tests would lead to the opposite result to that hoped for and to have more contamination.

When the result of the self-test is positive, the authorities ask the patient to contact a doctor and undergo a more reliable PCR test which will confirm or not the contamination of the person. Pharmacists should, in principle, remember this instruction when purchasing the self-test.

News report of 04/06/2021 – Self-tests: available in some pharmacies

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