France moves to end free Covid tests to promote vaccination campaign

France is to end subsidised Covid testing from mid-October in a bid to encourage the country’s vaccination drive. However people who have already been vaccinated will still be allowed to get tested free of charge.

From 15 October, the date on which Covid-19 screening tests will no longer be systematically free, PCR tests will cost €44 for unvaccinated adults without a prescription.

The antigenic tests will be charged €22 euros if they are carried out in a laboratory, with pharmacies charging €25 euros.

Self-testing kits at €5.20 will no longer be free when performed in front of a pharmacist.

However, there are exceptions to this end of 100% reimbursement of screening tests.

Covid tests will thus remain free for people who have just turned 18 and are still studying at secondary school.

Tests to remain free of charge for people vaccinated
Meanwhile, all adults who have not been vaccinated, but who present symptoms, will also be able to access a free test upon presentation of a prescription.

The prescription must be less than 48 hours old; prescriptions by e-mail after a teleconsultation will also be accepted.

This also applies to people who need a test for an operation.

For those already vaccinated, the tests will remain free, a move that has sparked vitriol among detractors of the French government’s vaccination campaign.

For those with symptoms or who are about to undergo surgery, they will just have to present their vaccination certificate to be tested free of charge

Screening will also remain free for all contact cases reported by the health insurance.

Finally, to confirm the diagnosis of an antigenic test, it will be sufficient to present it within two days to the laboratory to access the free PCR test.

Upto 6 million French adults remain unvaccinated
After several weeks of decline, the weekly number of Covid-19 tests stabilised at around 3.5 million at the end of September, a level that is still high in the run-up to their scheduled delisting on 15 October.

According to France’s Ministry of Health, although almost 75% of the population are fully vaccinated, nearly 6 million adults have not yet received a dose of the vaccine and will therefore have to pay out of pocket for these tests.

Next week’s measure is intended to encourage vaccination, but also to lighten the bill for screening, which is expected to rise to €6.2billion this year, after the €2.2 billion spent in 2020.

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