France ‘cannot keep spending €1bn a month on Covid tests’: Leading GP

The president of a doctors’ union has warned the country cannot afford to continue to test for free ‘people who refuse the vaccine’ as tests will not ‘beat’ the virus

12 August 2021
Tube containing a swab sample that has tested positive for COVID-19. France ‘cannot keep spending €1b a month on Covid tests’: leading GP

Dr Luc Duquesnel said that France was currently spending €1billion per month on Covid tests, which could not continue Pic: Myriam B / Shutterstock

By Hannah Thompson

France is spending €1billion per month on ‘free’ Covid-19 tests for people who have not been vaccinated against the virus, and this “cannot continue”, a leading doctor has said.

Dr Luc Duquesnel, president of the GP section of medical union Confédération des syndicats médicaux français (CSMF), told FranceInfo: “Social security cannot keep spending €1billion per month on tests for people who refuse to have the vaccine.

“I think that we cannot keep continuing to offer more tests, and allowing the public to believe that we are going to beat this virus simply by doing a test. These tests have a cost.”

Tests for Covid-19 have been free for residents in France until now, but the government is set to end this from October, unless the patient has a medical prescription.

But Dr Duquesnel said that the cost of testing was already too high.

He said: “We have been lucky in France to have these tests reimbursed. In Spain, a PCR test costs between €75 and €150. In Finland, it costs €249. Last week, these tests cost [France] €150million, and it’s social security, therefore the public, who are paying.”

The doctor added that this cost would likely soar this week, “because we are seeing an explosion in demand”, and “this is causing a public health problem”.

He asked: “Is social security going to continue to spend €1billion to offer tests to people who have refused to get a vaccine? That does not seem like a good choice to me.”

His comments come after government spokesperson Gabriel Attal announced yesterday that Covid-19 tests taken without a medical prescription will no longer be free for French nationals and residents from mid-October.

He said: “We have decided to put an end to free tests without a medical prescription, in line with the announcement made by the president in his speech on July 12, and the choices made by a number of our European neighbours.”

Germany said this week that it would end free non-medical Covid tests from October 11.

The tests are already paid for by tourists, with the price stated by state health insurance website ameli.fr to be €25 for an antigen test and €43.89 for PCR (though prices quoted by individual pharmacies and test centres can vary slightly from this). 

Related stories

Checklist: Where and when should I use the French Covid health pass?
France extends health pass: Rules for residents and tourists
Macron: Our overseas Covid explosion is cruel proof that vaccines work

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
Brexit and Beyond for Britons in France*
Featured Help Guide
What the Brexit deal means for UK residents of France, second homeowners and visitors in 2021 and after
Get news, views and information from France
You have 2 free subscriber articles left
Subscribe now to read unlimited articles and exclusive content
Already a subscriber? Log in now