Don’t come and buy self-tests en masse tomorrow, pharmacists urge
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Don’t come and buy self-tests en masse tomorrow, pharmacists urge

Credit: Belga

The General Pharmaceutical Association is calling on people not to rush to the pharmacy tomorrow to buy a rapid self-test, as they will not be available in all pharmacies yet.

In the warehouse of wholesaler Febelco in Heusden-Zolder, one of the three wholesalers that supply rapid tests, 97,000 rapid tests are ready on pallets. From there, the rapid tests are sent to other branches of the company, and to pharmacies.

“The deliveries are being prepared, but we now have a long weekend (due to Easter Monday),” George Verpraet of the General Pharmaceutical Association told VTM News, urging people not to flock to the pharmacy en masse on Tuesday when the rapid tests that people can test themselves with will be sold.

“Deliveries will likely start during the day tomorrow,” Verpraet said, adding that the self-tests will become available from then on, and over the course of the next few days.

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“However, the message should not be that people go and wait at the pharmacy door at 9:00 AM tomorrow,” he added. “You will come back from an unsuccessful journey.”

The self-tests that will become available in pharmacies is almost the same as the rapid tests that are already used by doctors and nurses. The only difference is the swab, which is a lot smaller for the self-tests.

“Because of that, you have a chance of getting less virus material out of your nose, which means you do not go as deep and sacrifice sensitivity,” Verpraet explained. “Technically, it’s about the same type of test.”

These tests are intended to be used on healthy people who are not showing Covid-19 symptoms, but pharmacists already warned that they will not give large quantities to just one customer.

“I am convinced that pharmacists will deliver the self-tests to the people who ask for them. We will be cautious in the beginning when people ask for large quantities,” he said. “We want to and can avoid hoarding behaviour.”

The self-test costs about €8, but they will be made largely refundable through health insurance for people with an increased allowance. People who test positive should contact their GP for a PCR test.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times