With the end of free tests, it is also the end of the indicator to which the French had become accustomed since the start of the epidemic: the incidence rate, that is to say the number of tests. positive per 10,000 inhabitants.
“We will no longer be able to correctly follow the evolution of the epidemic because the incidence rate, one of the earliest indicators, will be affected”, explains Mahmoud Zureik, professor of epidemiology at the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin. in Yvelines, who considers that “the major risk is that the need to be provided with a medical prescription dissuades people who have symptoms or who are in contact with them from going to be tested.
Moreover, the time to obtain a prescription gives the virus time to spread ”…
To monitor the epidemic, other indicators will be used: the number of hospitalizations, the number of admissions to the intensive care unit or even the analysis of wastewater.
The Directorate General of Health should have taken over from the Obépine surveillance network (Epidemiological Observatory of Wastewater) at the end of July, but it is the scientists who built the network who will continue to manage it until January 2022. Obépine consists of sample analysis in 150 out of 22,000 wastewater treatment plants. The method, recommended by the European Union, has already proved its worth.
Early indicators in June 2020 had made it possible to predict the second wave of Covid-19 in the fall of 2020.