New tests in France can detect both viruses at once

New test kits that can detect both Covid and the flu at the same time are now available to some in France. Both viruses are currently at epidemic levels in France.

Jean-Paul Hamon, honorary president of the French Federation of Doctors, told the Journal du Dimanche: “This is real progress. It allows us to prescribe fewer antibiotics. It is a good diagnostic tool.”

The main manufacturer of these dual tests is Strasbourg-based company Toda Pharma.

The company developed the test, which works on the same principle as the Covid antigen tests. It gives results in 15 minutes with 96-99% confidence level.

It can tell patients whether they have Covid or the flu, neither or both. It is two antigen tests in one.

Sébastien Spiss, head of communications at Toda Pharma, said France3: “To detect both viruses, all you need is a long cotton swab. It matters because the flu hit hard and early this year.”

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However, tests are still rare and difficult to intercept. These are currently for the use of healthcare professionals only and are not available for public purchase. Mr Spiss said the company is also under significant pressure due to increased orders.

Still, some pharmacies may offer them. Pierre Fritz, owner of a pharmacy in Strasbourg, said: “I did about 50 pharmacies in one week.

“If [a normal] The Covid test is negative but the patient is sick, sometimes I worry that the test is wrong, but with the combined test I can see that it is actually a case of flu.”

Another test that will allow testing of VRS, the virus that causes Covid, influenza and bronchiolitis, is currently under trial in France.

triple epidemic

It comes at a time when France has been rocked by a triple epidemic of Covid, flu and bronchiolitis this winter. The health ministry described the situation as “unprecedented” and said it put serious pressure on hospitals and medical staff.

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Currently, more than 50,000 new cases of Covid are reported every day in France. Still, the actual number could be much higher as testing has dropped significantly. This year, only 210,000 official tests were registered on December 23, 2022, while around one million tests were registered on the same date in 2021.

Brigitte Autran, chair of the health risk committee le Comité de veille et d’anticipation des risques sanitaires (Covars), said last week (December 29) that the country had “passed the Covid peak” but “yet the peak of the flu”.

He said the flu outbreak this year was caused by a “particularly severe” strain of the virus called H3N2.

He urged the public in France to ensure their Covid vaccines are up to date and to get a flu shot.

He told FranceInfo: “I want to remind everyone that the flu vaccine is 85-90% effective against this severe strain of flu. It’s never too late to get vaccinated.

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“Today, the number of flu cases has caught the number of Kovid cases, but Covid is decreasing. We are not yet at the peak of the flu, so there will be more flu in the coming days.”

China and Covid tests for travel to France

After France announced that people aged 11 and over coming from China would show a negative result from a test done 48 hours before their departure to France on January 5, Covid travel tests were also on the agenda for some.

China has experienced another explosion in Covid cases in recent weeks.

Italy and Spain also set rules similar to those coming from the country.

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