The constraints will harden this Friday for the last recalcitrant to vaccination. The government will operate a double turn of the screw: free tests for all will end and healthcare professionals will be forced to present a complete vaccination schedule to exercise. Even if the Covid-19 epidemic is at the bottom of the wave (the national incidence rate has notably fallen below the alert threshold), the executive will apply on the due date the final restrictions promised to the unvaccinated .
How much will a Covid screening cost?
From this Friday, it is therefore the end of the free “comfort” tests, announced in July by Emmanuel Macron. Nearly 7 million partially or unvaccinated adults will need to be screened to obtain a health pass.
As the public service website indicates, the price of an antigen test will be 22 euros on average. And the benchmark price for a laboratory PCR test will be 43.89 euros.
The Covid tests will still be covered by Health Insurance in certain cases, which concern in particular minors, contact cases, who present a medical prescription or who have a contraindication to vaccination. It will be necessary to present supporting documents to obtain support.
The end of free tests therefore clearly aims to push the reluctant towards the bite, while reducing the bill: the cost of tests will indeed soar to 6.2 billion this year, after 2.2 billion in 2020.
The end of an indicator of the epidemic?
With this measure, however, the government risks breaking the thermometer of the epidemic. The president of the Union of biologists, François Blanchecotte, expects a “sudden drop of about 80%”, while the number of examinations stabilized around 3.5 million per week at the end of September. “We will no longer be able to correctly follow the evolution of the epidemic because the incidence rate will be affected”, predicts the professor of public health Mahmoud Zureik.
On the contrary, the Ministry of Health anticipates “a modest break” and “one-off” on this key indicator, arguing that “comfort tests” are carried out by “often asymptomatic people who have very low positivity rates”.
Who is affected by the vaccination obligation?
The vaccine obligation will also become absolute on Friday for 2.7 million workers.
Already obliged since September 15 to justify at least one injection, employees of hospitals, clinics and retirement homes, as well as liberal caregivers, home helpers, firefighters and ambulance personnel will now have to certify a “complete scheme”, under penalty of suspension of their employment contract, without remuneration.
Workforce reductions to be expected?
According to the latest Public Health France survey on the subject, 86.6% of staff in health establishments were already “fully vaccinated” on September 20. This rate even rose to 88.6% in structures for disabled people and 92.4% in nursing homes. “The vaccination coverage of health professionals is sufficient”, estimates the ministry, which ensures that the measure does not entail “major risk on the continuity of the care” but recognizes that “certain tensions in terms of hospital staff can arise locally “.
In Mulhouse, the Sud-Alsace hospital group had to temporarily activate its “white plan” at the end of September, to cope with “a critical situation” after having suspended 170 agents, or nearly 3% of its workforce. A proportion four times higher than in Île-de-France, where the regional health agency (ARS) recorded 0.7% of suspensions at the beginning of October in the workforce of health and medico-social establishments, that is all the same 1 400 people.
Contacted by Agence France-Presse, the other ARS all referred to the ministry, which also mentions a rate of 0.7% “based on feedback from establishments”, without advancing an overall number for suspended staff.