The Breton company NG Biotech has developed a test carried out using a simple drop of blood taken from the patient's finger. - @

  • The solidarity fund of the Rennes CHU has ordered 15,000 rapid tests which will be offered to hospital staff.
  • The objective of this order is to "reassure" the staff but also to conduct an important epidemiological study on the hospital population.
  • The order was placed with the Breton company NG Biotech, which has developed a rapid serological test that works from a drop of blood.

The first tests should be delivered within the next fifteen days and the entire order for the 15,000 tests should be fulfilled during June. From this date, the 13,000 people working for the Rennes University Hospital and its branches will be able to claim rapid screening for Covid-19, if they wish. But why are medical personnel going to be offered a serological test when the coronavirus epidemic seems to be slowing down? The answer lies in a mixture of scientific study, of will to "reassure" sprinkled with a little stroke of luck.

Let's start with the “stroke of luck”. The Nominoë fund, a foundation that usually helps the sick at Rennes University Hospital, has launched a call for donations to support caregivers mobilized by the coronavirus epidemic. Faced with the generosity, the pillars of this association have decided to offer a serological test to staff. The idea germinated in the mind of Alain Le Roch, member of the Nominoë fund and early shareholder of the Breton start-up NG Biotech. Based in Guipry-Messac (Ille-et-Vilaine), the company he supports is developing rapid screening for Covid-19. Using a drop of blood taken from a finger, its solution makes it possible to assess whether the person has developed antibodies. If this is the case, the patient can be sure that he has contracted the coronavirus, without necessarily developing symptoms.

"The orders are huge"

In high demand, NG Biotech has notably received a large order from the Army but also from numerous medical structures, insurance companies, mutuals established in France and elsewhere. "The orders are huge," says Alain Le Roch. If the Breton company is so requested, it is because its test has been validated and presented as reliable by the High Authority for Health, which will unveil its conclusions next week. In May, the company, which employs 30 people, will produce 500,000 tests. In June, it could climb to a million. And produce six to seven million in the next six months. "All are already sold," promises Alain Le Roch.

Coronavirus: A Breton company is launching an “ultra-rapid” screening test via @ 20minutesRennes

- 20 Minutes Rennes (@ 20minutesrennes) April 1, 2020

For the shareholder of NG Biotech, the idea of ​​providing these tests to hospital staff would be a good way to "protect them", by informing them whether they have contracted the disease or not. “The fact of not knowing is terribly anxiety-provoking. We often hear people say that they had a fever, a stroke of fatigue. We felt that there was an expectation among the staff, ”explains Karim Boudjema, renowned surgeon and president of the scientific committee of the Nominoë fund. "Especially since, presumably, the presence of antibodies protects, even if you have to be careful," he continues.

A study "to learn more about the virus"

Offered on a voluntary basis, this serological test will above all serve as a solid basis for an important epidemiological study. It is this aspect that convinced Professor Vincent Thibault to associate his virology laboratory with it. “There is enormous pressure from the population to know whether or not we have contracted the disease. But if we are positive, what does it change? No conclusions can be drawn from this. How would that be reassuring since we don't know if it protects us? Serological tests are important if symptoms appear, because they allow a rapid response, but there is no point in massively distributing them, ”says the head of the Rennes CHU laboratory. Except to carry out scientific work.

It is to study this panel that his department will pilot the epidemiological study carried out among the staff. "This allows us to have a picture of the situation, to see how a hospital population reacted to the virus," continues the professor. Doctor Karim Boudjema goes in the same direction. "By studying a population moderately exposed to the virus, we will be able to know more about its contagiousness, about the penetrance of the germ, about the effectiveness of our measures," said the surgeon.

It remains to be seen what will be the amount of the invoice sent to the Nominoë solidarity fund. The 15,000 tests could be billed around one hundred thousand euros.


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