A Covid-19 screening center installed in a gymnasium in Charleville-Mezières, on December 14. FRANCOIS NASCIMBENI / AFP
What lessons can be learned from the first deconfinement of the spring, while, since December 15, the rules of the second confinement have been lightened for the end of the year celebrations? In a study published Monday, December 21 in the journal Nature, the team of Vittoria Colizza, research director at the Pierre-Louis Institute of Epidemiology and Public Health (Inserm / Sorbonne University), analyzed the epidemiological surveillance data for the weeks following the first confinement, highlighting several flaws in the screening system. The researchers thus shed light on the points to be vigilant in the strategy to be adopted in the coming weeks to avoid a third wave in favor of winter.
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This work highlights that“About 90,000 symptomatic cases were not detected in the first seven weeks following confinement, from May 11 to June 28”, despite a gradual increase in the screening effort. In addition, according to participatory surveillance data from the Covidnet.fr platform, based on a set of volunteers declaring their symptoms themselves, “Only 31% of people with Covid-19 type symptoms consulted a doctor during this period”, which has been confirmed by serological studies, based on the search for antibodies.
Today, access to tests has been facilitated: it is no longer necessary to consult a doctor to perform one and the deployment of antigenic tests has increased the possibilities of screening. In addition, the times for obtaining results continue to shorten – 80% of the results of RT-PCR tests are provided 24 hours after collection, according to the direction of research, studies, evaluation and statistics ( Drees).
Despite everything, these data show the importance of a more targeted, effective and accessible screening strategy to fight the epidemic. “We must continue to communicate around the fact that each symptom must be screened”, insists Vittoria Colizza. A difficult pedagogy to implement as the symptoms of Covid-19 – fever, headache, cough – are not specific to this disease. But “This is the only means currently available to reduce the circulation of the virus without resorting to more coercive means, such as confinement, adds the epidemiologist. This is indeed a very traditional measure from an epidemiological point of view, but which will look for the virus where it is. ”
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