Swabs of Covid tests: beware of lesions warns the Academy of Medicine

The Covid epidemic has seen the number of “nasopharyngeal” samples soar, but this method is “not without risk”, warned the Academy of Medicine on Thursday a few days before the arrival in pharmacies of “self-tests “, which, however, do not require taking so much deep in the nostrils.

These samples, operated with a swab, have become “the reference method”, whether for PCR tests or antigenic tests, the results of which are faster, said the Academy in a press release.

In fact, since the start of the epidemic, their number has soared, with some 70 million carried out between March 1, 2020 and April 4, 2021 (57.7 million PCRs and 12.4 antigens) according to an estimate on Thursday. of the Department of Research, Studies, Evaluation and Statistics (DREES). In the week of March 29 to April 4, 2021 alone, 3,835,000 PCR and antigen test results were validated.

Faced with “the multiplication and repetition of samples, sometimes carried out in unsuitable conditions”, the Academy of Medicine recalls “the precautions to be observed and the risks incurred”.

Because if most are benign, “inconvenience, pain or bleeding, serious complications have started to be described in the medical literature for a few weeks, in particular breaches of the anterior level of the base of the skull associated with a risk of meningitis”, continues the scientific college, citing several recently published studies.

The Academy therefore recommends that these tests be reserved for “trained health professionals” and recommends that they inquire about any ENT history before proceeding. She also recommends giving preference to saliva samples for children.

She also warns about the use of self-tests, which must arrive in pharmacies from April 12. These don’t require as deep a swab as the others, but the Academy recommends alerting users that “self-sampling can expose you to false negatives when swabbing is too timid and superficial,” but can also become dangerous when the swab is too deep and pointed in the wrong direction. “

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