Covid-19: PCR tests will cost 44 euros and antigenic tests 22 euros at least for people who are unvaccinated or without a prescription

Antigenic tests will cost at least 22 euros from October 15 for people who are unvaccinated or without a prescription. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP Announced in July by

Covid-19: PCR tests will cost 44 euros and antigenic tests 22 euros at least for people who are unvaccinated or without a prescription

Antigenic tests will cost at least 22 euros from October 15 for people who are unvaccinated or without a prescription. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP Announced in July by

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10 October 2021 Sunday 00:00
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Covid-19: PCR tests will cost 44 euros and antigenic tests 22 euros at least for people who are unvaccinated or without a prescription
Antigenic tests will cost at least 22 euros from October 15 for people who are unvaccinated or without a prescription. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP

Announced in July by Emmanuel Macron, the measure was confirmed last week by Prime Minister Jean Castex: from October 15, tests for Covid-19 will no longer be reimbursed except for medical reasons or for vaccinated people. Their cost is now known, according to information obtained by Le Monde from the Ministry of health, Thursday, October 7:

43.89 euros for a PCR test;22 euros for an antigenic test in the laboratory, 25 euros in pharmacies (30 euros on Sunday).

Tests will continue to be reimbursed for medical reasons, either without a prescription for those already vaccinated or on prescription for others. Free of charge will be maintained especially for minors and for persons identified in the context of contact tracing by the health insurance. Tests will also remain free in French Guiana, Martinique and Guadeloupe until the end of the state of health emergency. In Mayotte, the device for the end of reimbursement of tests will not apply for the moment.

Self-tests carried out under the supervision of a health professional will also no longer be valid for obtaining the sanitary pass, said the Ministry of health in a statement published Friday.

"Incitement à se faire vaccinée"

Originally announced to push for vaccination, this decision also responds to economic considerations: "It is no longer legitimate to pay for excessive comfort tests at taxpayers' expense", justified Jean Castex. Until now France was one of the few countries in the world that did not require symptoms or be case contact to fully reimburse PCR tests. A policy that has a cost: 6.2 billion euros this year.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Covid-19 makes the fortune of medical analysis laboratories, thanks in particular to PCR tests

Since the beginning of July, except for medical reasons, the tests had already become paid for foreign tourists coming to France: they now have to pay 43,89 euros for a PCR test, 25 euros for an antigenic test. "The logic is to reimburse the tests related to really medical reasons, and to continue to encourage to be vaccinated," insisted the prime minister.

While nearly three quarters of the population is fully vaccinated, there are potentially 6 million adults still to be convinced. But charging non-vaccinees for testing could encourage them to take the plunge if they want to benefit from the current health pass.

The flip side of the coin is that there will be "probably fewer positive people who will go to be tested", warned epidemiologist Pascal Crépey. With a risk of a rebound of the epidemic linked to the arrival of autumn, it is not certain that this policy is "tenable", he believes.

A "double-edged sword" decision

According to the department's data, the number of tests conducted has decreased each week since a peak in mid-August, from 5.7 million tests at that date to 3.5 million the week of September 27.

All the figures in our Covid-19 dashboard

With the announced reimbursement, some fear an inequality of access to care: "Only those who can afford it will continue to test themselves," warns infectiologist Gilles Pialoux. "Until October 15, the prospect of this reimbursement will perhaps act as a slight incentive to vaccination, judges for his part Mahmoud Zureik, professor of epidemiology at the University of Versailles - Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines. But then, access to care differentiated between vaccinated and unvaccinated risks promoting the spread of the virus. It's double-edged. "

If the epidemiologist considers it normal that "comfort tests are no longer reimbursed because we were in excess and there was abuse", restricting their access, according to him, carries risks. "We will no longer be able to properly monitor the evolution of the epidemic because the incidence rate, one of the earliest indicators, will be affected," he says. [But] the major risk is that the need to have a medical prescription deters people who have symptoms or who are contact cases from going to get tested. In addition, the time to obtain a prescription gives the virus time to spread. "

For others, it is the whole testing policy that must be reviewed thoroughly: "We wasted an incredible amount of money on testing while letting the virus circulate because there was no strategy for these tests," laments epidemiologist Catherine Hill. According to her, it has never been possible to trace all cases of Covid-19. "[since the beginning of the epidemic], we have always tested anything," she laments. To change the game, she recommends "doing group tests: for example in all classes in France twice a week".

Updated October 9 at 11:30 a.m.: added clarification on self-testing, following the release of a Ministry of health communiqué on October 8.

Le Monde

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Updated: 10.10.2021 00:00
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