Science

Tests, tracing, clusters: the Pittet report points to the “management flaws” of the crisis


The experts responsible for auditing the management of the crisis have made an initial diagnosis. They are hoping for quick fixes, especially in tracking down clusters.

“Obvious shortcomings in anticipation, preparation and management”. Responsible for independently auditing the management of the Covid-19 crisis in France, the mission headed by Swiss infectious disease specialist Didier Pittet, launched at the request of Emmanuel Macron at the end of June, has just unveiled a first progress report . And it turns out, as one might expect, rather harsh for the public authorities, especially on the health side. The final rendering of its work was not expected until the end of the year. But faced with the “epidemic rebound”, these experts had planned, in agreement with the Elysee Palace, to speak at the start of the school year. “We anticipated that the fall would be difficult, and that if we had advice to give, it would be useful to do so now, without waiting for the final report,” said Professor Didier Pittet at the press conference of presentation of these first conclusions. And, in fact, these experts call for several urgent fixes, in particular on the identification and management of chains of transmission and clusters. With the hope of being able to keep the virus under control.

Priority of priority, the “rapid” establishment of a task force to “rethink the test / trace / isolate component of the epidemic control strategy”. Its deployment should be piloted by a full set of indicators, ranging from “symptoms to isolation”. “These aspects seem in fact today caught in default, observe these experts: insufficient identification of contact cases and non-compliance with isolation in proportions estimated by some regional health agencies at 30% of cases” they note. But the objective of this task force will above all be to better identify the foci of infection. Today, these missions are carried out on the one hand by the Health Insurance for the tracing of cases, and on the other by the regional health agencies for the management of clusters, which can be detrimental to the effectiveness of whole device. “The use of tests should be linked to epidemiology in the field, and from a point of view, there are still efforts to be made, and they are important”, argues Professor Pittet, himself an epidemiologist.

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