Self-tests at school: “We can lower the risk of contamination by more than 50%” under certain conditions, according to a member of the Scientific Council

The Prime Minister, Jean Castex, announced, Thursday, April 22, the deployment of self-tests in high schools at the start of the school year: 64 million have been ordered for the staff of National Education then high school students. A device that can allow “of reduce the risk of contamination by more than 50% “ under certain conditions, explains Olivier Guérin, member of the Scientific Council, on franceinfo. To achieve such results, it is necessary “a membership of more than 75% of children and teachers and that these tests be carried out at least once a week”, he specifies.

franceinfo: Can setting up and distributing self-tests in schools have a positive impact?

Olivier Guérin: Yes, there are experiences that have been made in other European countries, such as Germany, Austria or the United Kingdom. Indeed, when we analyze the devices that have been put in place, we know that when we have a membership of more than 75% of a population of children and teachers, and that these tests are carried out at least one times a week, the risk of contamination can be lowered by more than 50%. So it’s a fairly powerful public health tool.

On the last operations, especially with the saliva tests, there were difficulties in reaching this level. We will have to explain, convince?

Exactly. Explain how it works, show that it is very easy to use. When you look at the Austrian experience, finally with good information, a good message, 98% of children have completed these self-tests in primary, middle and high school. We can hope that we can have, in the French population, the same type of support as the Austrian population.

There is both the logistical challenge of distributing the tests and the field training part. The Austrians have shown that after three times the children of middle and high school knew how to use them.

Olivier Guérin, member of the Scientific Council

to franceinfo

For the little ones, it is up to parents or teachers, depending on whether we decide to do it on site or at home, who can help little children to do it.

Outside of schools, what can these self-tests be used for? Under what conditions do you recommend using them?

In schools, this is an example of a public health type of operation. Afterwards, we have all the individual possibilities to get tested. For our asymptomatic fellow citizens who suspect to have been in contact, for example. When we have symptoms, we stick to the tests we know, such as PCR. It is very important to remember this. If the test is positive with a self-test, a PCR test should be performed to confirm it. In the world of work, I think that these tools will have a place that we still have to manage to determine. The university too. These are fields where, in terms of public health, it has a great potential impact.

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