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).