In front of the Laquitinie pharmacy, in the 13e district of Paris, a dozen people conscientiously masked are waiting next to a deserted Covid-19 screening tent. At lunchtime, almost everyone now goes behind the counter to perform an antigen test in the back room. In the heart of a fifth epidemic wave sweeping over France and all of Europe, pharmacists – and their rapid tests – are at the forefront.
In the group gathered in front of the automatic doors, many people declared contact cases and vaccinated. Justine and Mattéo, 21, want to make sure that they have not been infected by their comrade. The cases of Covid-19 “Explode everywhere” around them, confirms the young student in physiotherapy school.
It is in this epidemic resurgence that Georges Dehhan, pharmacist in the 15e arrondissement, finds the main explanation for the rebound in screening. Because if the number of tests increases, “The number of positives too”, he notes. Between mid-August and the beginning of November, this modest pharmacy on Boulevard Pasteur had recorded only two positive cases. Since November, “It is three or four positives per day, on about fifteen daily tests”, lists the professional.
An order of magnitude confirmed by the national epidemic monitoring figures. According to Public Health France, the number of antigenic and RT-PCR tests carried out had jumped by nearly 40% at the end of November, to more than four million. Among them, an average of 37,000 new cases are confirmed every day, up 50% in early December.
“National shortage” of tests
Even crowds in the pharmacy at the Gare d’Austerlitz. Of the ten patients who rush into it, six come for screening. Employees, contact case of a colleague, and young Britons, Olivia and Ryan, who are debating the validity of the tests before a flight that will take them across the Channel, to Liverpool. In half a day, around 40 tests will be carried out by a pharmacy student.
At the opening this Tuesday morning, the pharmacist, Mireille Grand, was informed of a “National shortage” of tests, forcing her to be content with the units she had in stock. These supply tensions reflect the national character of the screening explosion. About 200 kilometers from Paris, one in four customers enters the pharmacy of Europe, in the ZUP of Blois, to carry out an antigen test. Brice Laurin, titular pharmacist, testifies:
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