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Medical laboratories concerned by end to free Covid testing in France

As of mid-October, the cost of antigen and PCR tests without prescription will no longer be covered by social security

Medical laboratories anticipate a sharp decline in testing once charges come in, having carried out 30 million tests last year and nearly double that in the first half of 2021.

The government has said that antigen and PCR tests will no longer be reimbursed by social security from mid-October, without a medical prescription.

With costs hitting €1billion per month for ‘free’ Covid tests, the government is looking to make savings in this area.

"We expect 80% to 90% of the test volume to stop," François Blanchecotte, president of biologist union le Syndicat des Biologistes (SDB), told Le Figaro

“Unless the price drops in the coming months, the €43.89 fee for the service will deter people from doing it", he added.

Labs open 24/7

For the staff who have been working overtime to keep medical laboratories open 24 hours a day, seven days a week to get results back faster, there will be some relief. 

But there could also be layoffs due to the speed with which the situation is changing. Ten thousand workers were hired in the field on temporary contracts that may not be renewed.

The government is hoping that more people will be encouraged to get vaccinated, rather than using tests in order to obtain their health pass.

The French health pass requires people to show proof of full vaccination, a negative test taken within the last 72 hours, or recovery from Covid-19 to be able to enter a range of public spaces. 

However, vaccination alone may not be enough to end the pandemic because of how quickly the virus mutates.

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