It is important to make the difference between the method used to take the sample and the technology used to analyse it.

The sample can either be :

  • Nasopharyngeal : a nasal swab is inserted up the nasal cavity.
  • Oropharyngeal : a swab is inserted deep down into the throat.
  • A saliva test : a saliva sample is spat into a container.
  • The method used for analysis can either be :

  • RT-PCR
  • Antigenic
  • In France, the preferred technique for a COVID-19 diagnosis remains the RT-PCR one, whether the sample is nasopharyngeal or saliva.

    F : FACTS
    In January 2020, German Professor Christian Drosten created the first RT-PCR test (as for Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) able to trace a SARS-CoV-2 infection. This rapidly became the diagnosis reference technique for this illness. However, during the following months, although many other methods were invented to trace the illness efficiently, very few were legalised. As far as Airlines are concerned, we can only deplore it. As well as concerning people reluctance to accept these tests.

    Many people spoke up against these tests' reliability. indeed, Kary Mullis, who created them, had warned that an infection diagnosis could not only be made through them, but that it should be combined with a thorough examination of the patient. In May 2021, a Swedish study from the Swedish Agency for Public Health, established the ARN virus could often be detected during weeks (even months sometimes), following an infection ; which doesn't mean that you' re still contagious.

    Another article published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases Review revealed that among the PCR test positive samples with a number of cycles superior to 35, only 3% showed a viral replication, which can be interpreted as followed : If a person' s PCR test is positive, whenever a Ct (amplification threshold) of 35 is used, their infection and contagiousness probability is less than 3%. In France, on certificates delivered by laboratories, the number of cycles used to make the test are not mentioned. Epidemiologist Laurent Toubiana, chairman of IRSAN, declared : we're not experiencing a Covid epidemic, but a tests epidemic . It seems that the liable threshold is 40 or 42, whereas the international community would rather take into account PCR tests with a threshold of less than 30. This graphics from the IHU in Marseille demonstrates perfectly that beyond a Ct35, it' s impossible to maintain a virus alive, only fragments of dead ARN can be found :

    However, whether you like it or not, these tests have become compulsory in order to get a green pass, enabling free circulation and access to public places.


  • Option A : Nasopharyngeal RT-PCR tests
  • Option B : Saliva RT-PCR tests
  • Option C : Antigenic autotest supervised by medical staff


    Nasopharyngeal RT-PCR tests
    These tests are said to be more accurate (furthermore, a positive antigenic test should always be confirmed by a PCR test) ; however, their use isn't without risk, especially on a routine-based use (which is the case for crew members). Many authorities, reluctant at first, eventually acknowledged that repeated nasopharyngeal tests were dangerous.

    For example, the National Medical Academy, highlighted the medical issues possibly triggered by the repetition of these tests in a communique dated April, 8th 2021.

    Le Monde newspaper also published that those tests were not riskless.

    Read In the SNPL monthly magazine n 666 dated February 2021 : As a consequence of a series of PCR tests taken on sensitive people only, medical studies appear to have identified two main pathologies, both possibly leading to a complete professional incapacity. These are chronic sinus infections and eye inflammation .

    The nasopharyngeal test consists in a fifteen-centimetre swab introduced into both nostrils, up to the limit of the  blood-brain barrier , acting as a frontier with the brain. Should the test be improperly performed, there' s a real, and more or less irreversible risk of perforation and ORL damages. The documentation already reports at least one death case following cerebral liquid run-off due to perforation (in the United States), several reports of ORL issues, sometimes meningitis.

    In order for a Crew Member to comply with their mission, a healthy ORL sphere is essential ; in the event of sinus inflammation, their medical ability to do their job would be at stake. In addition, beyond the sinuses, the brain is protected from potentially toxic substances by a barrier called the cribriform plate. The latter consists of a multi-perforated 1 mm-thick bone located at the top of the nasal cavity penetrating the brain cavity. This is a very sensitive area which should not be fiddled with, those tests being articularly invasive, and sometimes painful.

    Furthermore, a note from the High Authority for Health emphasized the fact that nasopharyngeal tests aren't adapted for all the situations, especially when repeated on a wide scale.

    Saliva RT-PCR tests
    From a physiological point of view, those are harmless, and well accepted by the general community of crew members. Considering that a spit is sufficient to contaminate someone, we can wonder why those tests are not more commonly used ? One disadvantage though : it often takes more than 24 hours to get the result, which greatly reduces the required 72 hour-validity, or even 48 hours for some destinations.

    Antigenic Autotests
    Autotests taken for comfort or rapidity (the result being obtained in 5 minutes) under the supervision of a health practitioner, are less invasive, since the swab is inserted into the nostril by the patient himself, at his own path, and in one nostril only. They are the preferred ones amongst our community. Some may doubt their liability. However, according to the note published in the prestigious Lancet review, we know now that vaccinated people are as contagious as non-vaccinated ones. We can only regret the lack of enthusiasm showed by the Authorities regarding those tests. Indeed, these ones are particularly well adapted to us crew members. We are very much used to being liable regarding the ingestion of medication, alcohol and other psychotropic drugs, without the need for our employer to test us before each flight.


    As a consequence of what we consider as a discrimination between vaccinated and non-vaccinated citizens, our corporation have decided to undertake a legal action in order to struggle against the sanitary pass, that we regard as a discriminatory measure, and against the end of the refunding of the autotests, considered as an assault on our freedom to work.


    Based upon a note from the High Authority for Health note dated February, 4th 2021, mentioning that the use of nasopharyngeal tests on a regular basis was not recommended, our corporation would like to work with all those of good will, associations, legal experts or unions in order to fight the abusive measures taken by the French government regarding their Health Policy ; especially with the aim of getting free saliva tests or auto tests under supervision, whenever needed.

    R : REVIEW
    The early settlement of an industrial and massive tracing is the key for success in the struggle against the epidemic, as reference to a ternary strategy : diagnose, isolate, treat . The leaders used to be China, Germany, Iceland, South Korea, Australia, New-Zealand and Singapore. However, nearly two years later, it must be noted that this tracing method know as contact tracing has a limited effect against a rapidly mutating virus.

    We also find that too many grey areas remain concerning the matter of PCR tests, about the method employed to test someone as well as the real liability of highly invasive, painful and potentially dangerous tests which, if taken too often, may lead to medical license loss of a crew member.

    All those alerts and documents, coming from liable scientific studies, Health Organisations and / or Administration, or even articles issued from magazines specialised in our job specifics, give warnings about the real danger that those tests represent.

    October 2021