Mahmoud Zureik, professor of epidemiology and public health, is concerned about the impact on Covid data.
“The evolution of the epidemic will no longer be properly monitored because the incidence rate will be affected,” he told AFP.
The incidence rate refers to the average number of positive Covid cases per 100,000 people over a period of one week. The current national incidence rate in France is 48.
Pascal Crépey, a researcher and teacher in biostatistics and epidemiology at the School of Advanced Studies in Public Health, said the change could lead to a greater spread of the virus.
“We won’t see that [some people] are positive and we will therefore not be able to avoid a number of transmission chains that could have been avoided if access to the tests were easier, ”he told Franceinfo.
French Health Minister Olivier Véran, however, said he did not expect the end of free trials for some to significantly affect the data and that any impact would be “modest” and “temporary”.
The number of tests carried out in France between October 10 and 14, before the end of free tests for unvaccinated people, was around 3.2 million. France’s health ministry still expects some two million tests to be performed each week despite the new costs.
“This will still make France one of the countries that tests the most in the world,” Véran told Franceinfo.
On October 15, Covid tests ceased to be free for adults not fully vaccinated against Covid. They remain free – via reimbursement – for fully vaccinated people, those under 18, those with a medical prescription, those who have been reported as a contact case and those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.
The number of tests taken on October 14 was 806,782. The next day, while they were no longer free for unvaccinated people, only 371,174 were taken. This compares to 675,075 on the same day a week earlier, a drop of 45%, franceinfo reported.
Some 7.5 million people in France eligible to be vaccinated against Covid have not yet been vaccinated.
The price of the tests will vary from around € 22 to € 45, depending on the type of test and where it is performed.
For more information on who should pay for a test in France and how much, read our article here:
Covid tests in France: who must pay from today and how much?
Proof of a negative Covid test is a document that can be used as part of France’s health pass measures. This pass is required to enter most public places in France, including restaurants, cafes, cinemas and museums.
The impact of the end of free testing
A recent survey by the national health agency Santé Publique France found that 36% of unvaccinated respondents said they were willing to pay for Covid testing to get a health pass.
The survey also found that among unvaccinated respondents, 8% said they would now get vaccinated due to the introduction of health card measures and the end of free tests. This figure rose to 18% among 18-24 year olds.
The survey involved 2,000 respondents aged 18 and over answering questions online, and was conducted between September 28 and October 5 of this year.
Biggest impact on low incomes
France’s human rights defender Claire Hédon has expressed concern about the impact of the end of free tests for people not fully vaccinated on people with low incomes.
She said it was a “disguised compulsory vaccination measure”.
“This measure, which will particularly affect the most vulnerable people, presents a risk of discrimination by making it more difficult to screen people far from the health system as well as precarious and / or isolated populations,” she wrote in a statement. . communicated.
She wrote that the average vaccination rate among the 10% of 40-54 year olds living in wealthier neighborhoods was 84.6%, but was only 76.2% for the 10% living in neighborhoods. the less fortunate.
She added that the cessation of reimbursement for tests “was an additional barrier” for people seeking to access basic goods and services, such as “to get medical procedures, visit nursing homes and travel to other places. other establishments open to the public ”.
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