Why do you advocate the Slovak model of massive, systematic and rapid antigen testing from the end of November?
To avoid a new confinement and this permanent “stop and go” policy which has disastrous psychological, economic and social consequences. Containment can only be a temporary solution, much imperfect in terms of freedoms. The effective strategy is to confine to test. We must take advantage of confinement to test all French people systematically. This general screening makes it possible to detect asymptomatic carriers who represent around 50% of infections. If we don’t do this, the epidemic continues to advance. The speed of results is a decisive weapon against the spread, especially when you know that most people are contagious within 12 days. Today the “test, trace, isolate” is a triple failure. We always test too little and too late, and the virus continues to circulate. The tracing is very imperfect and isolation is the big missing from our health strategy.
This method was applied on a population of 5.4 million inhabitants. Can it be in France where we are twelve times more numerous?
Slovakia managed to test two thirds of its population within days. She thus isolated 38,000 positive cases, mostly asymptomatic, but potential vectors of the virus. This screening also made it possible to grant a pass to 99% of the population. France has more inhabitants than Slovakia, but the means at its disposal are on a whole different scale. We have twice as many nurses per capita and the same proportion of doctors. At least let’s give ourselves the means to try! This requires strong political will with the mobilization of the nation’s vital forces (doctors, students, soldiers, police, volunteers) and the opening of a large number of screening centers. After the sample, each person will have to wait about twenty minutes. If the test is negative, a certificate of free movement will be issued. Otherwise, the person will have to quarantine immediately and those who refuse the test will have to quarantine themselves for ten days, or face a hefty fine.
How to organize such a screening logistically?
The issue of logistics is as important as the volume of tests available. We can proceed in stages. Initiatives in the regions are already taking place, such as in Avignon or on certain university campuses. I propose to organize screening for everyone in the most affected areas first. Then, the campaign would be done department by department. This would make it possible to break the chains of contamination, to breathe life into our intensive care services and to experiment with screening for all on a large scale before generalizing it at the national level. We must therefore systematize the so-called rapid antigenic tests, increase the number of pooled PCR tests and also look for the virus in wastewater, which is a good indicator of the number of people infected.
Why do you insist on the urgency of such a solution?
The urgency is absolute in view of the health degradation, the looming economic and social disaster, and the need to have a vision to prepare for deconfinement! The goal is to avoid a third lockdown at all costs. We must act now. This general screening solution would make it possible to start practically from zero in terms of virus circulation. Otherwise, we will continue the yo-yo of failure in health recovery and economic recovery. As the end of year celebrations approach, we must be sure that the French can meet peacefully for the Christmas or New Year’s meal. We must try this third way, between the abolition of the end of year celebrations and the creation of a giant national cluster.