Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals

Germany to stop free COVID-19 tests - report

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People queue to receive a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during a night of vaccinations with music, at the Arena Treptow vaccination centre in Berlin, Germany, August 9, 2021. John Macdougall/Pool via REUTERS

BERLIN, Aug 9 (Reuters) - Germany wants to end free coronavirus tests in October, the RND group of newspapers reported on Monday, citing a draft proposal to be discussed by Chancellor Angela Merkel and leaders of the country's 16 states.

The government made the tests free for all in March to make a gradual return to normal life possible after a lockdown to break a third wave of COVID-19.

But with 55% of the population fully vaccinated there have been calls to stop spending taxpayers' money on a subsidised scheme that now mainly benefits those who are not yet vaccinated even though vaccines are available for all.

"Given that all vaccination is immediately available to all citizens, it is no longer justifiable that the federal government and therefore taxpayers cover the cost of all tests," RND cited from a draft proposal.

Less than seven weeks before a federal election, Merkel and state leaders will discuss measures to keep rising new infections spurred by the Delta variant in check without instituting lockdowns.

The draft stipulates that people who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons like expectant women and children under 18 will continue to be entitled to subsidised tests.

An exact date in October for curtailing the program has not yet been made, RND added.

Germany has recorded more than 3,000 cases on each of the past five days but with almost 63% of the population having received at least one shot the government is hoping lockdowns could be avoided.

Reporting by Joseph Nasr; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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