Since July, France has opted for a strategy of large-scale tests: tests open to all free, even without a prescription. In total, according to the Ministry of Health, nearly 37 million tests, all reimbursed by Social Security, were carried out in 2020. Knowing that the RT-PCR laboratory test costs € 73.59 and the antigen test in pharmacies costs 33.50 €, we arrive at a total of 2.7 billion euros for Social Security in 2020.

For 2021, the government is already planning a budget of 2 billion euros. A lower cost, for several reasons: the degression of reimbursements implemented since December – the later the laboratories return the results, the less they are reimbursed -, the expected drop in the number of tests with the arrival of the vaccine, and the arrival new tests with salivary samples, less expensive.

After testing, isolate

We are testing more than some of our European neighbors, but that does not seem to be helping to contain the epidemic. What is very important is to isolate the sick. However, this point remains difficult in France, and even more so with the English variant which is very contagious. Some infectious disease specialists, such as Dr. Davido, even ask to extend the duration of isolation to 14 days for patients with the English variant.

The other thorny point is the question of tracing: finding the contact cases of a patient after a positive test. And more specifically retrospective tracing, which some Asian countries have done: from a patient, go up the chain of contamination and find the index case, often asymptomatic.

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In the meantime, at the individual level, you have to get tested. And limit contact, open windows, because the greatest risk of contamination occurs when you are not wearing a mask.