Italians and the green pass, the cost of swabs soars: 30 million a month (half a billion a year)

from Federico Fubini

The money is spent on rapid tests that give access to the premises without having the vaccine

Last October 15 was a watershed in the history of the pandemic in Italy, because from that day the green pass was no longer just for leisure. Those who had to go to work and were not vaccinated were obliged to present at least the result of a negative antigenic swab. was a revolution in customs. But it was also, on a smaller scale, a revolution in the relationship of Italians with pharmacies: last month alone they spent just under thirty million euros on rapid tests that allowed them to enter offices, factories, cinemas or restaurants without having a vaccine.

This estimate from Inqvia, a market analysis company, does not include molecular or antigenic swabs practiced in private and public companies, laboratories or hospitals. Also for this reason the November results speak for themselves: if you were to keep up with last month’s spending rhythms, most likely Italians will end up spending more or less half a billion euros a year out of their own pockets on tampons (once the cost of the more expensive molecular tests is included); and an important part of these sums will be a sort of private tax, preferred by a few million Italians to a free vaccine because it is financed by the state. That most of these accounts can be explained by the transition to the green pass is clear from the month-by-month and region-by-region distribution of spending in buffers. On August 6, the green pass is mandatory to access places of leisure and that month the expenditure on tampons in pharmacies explodes by 47% compared to July. But this is nothing compared to what happens between September and November, respectively the last full month without and the first with the obligation of green pass at work. At that point spending by Italians in pharmacies jumped by 70% to 30 million in one month: five times higher than in July. At an estimated cost of 15 euros per single test, it is plausible that about two million tests were carried out for this channel alone in a month.

Above all, however, there is a real explosion in spending on tampons in the areas of the country that are the most late in the vaccination campaign: the same areas where the presence of those who are hesitant and against doses is relatively more widespread. In Val d’Aosta, still fourth from last in Italy in the ranking of first doses, pharmacies see their test revenue jump 686% between September and November. In Trentino-Alto Adige (the province of Bolzano last in Italy for the incidence of first doses), the increase in people’s spending of over 200%. In Friuli-Venezia by 240%, just as in Trieste there are protests against the green pass and the region remains firmly below the national average for inoculations.

Curiously, even in this aspect the South behaves in exactly the opposite way, with the exception of the only one Sicily. The latter is the region with the lowest rate of vaccinations, partly due to the organizational problems of health facilities but partly due to the reluctance present in the population. Here the shopping for tampons in pharmacy marks a 111% boom in November compared to September, a bit like it happens in the Northern regions where the presence of no vax is relatively more widespread. But in Calabria, for example, the delay in the vaccination campaign is almost entirely due to the inefficiency of health, and the population responds with an increase in spending on tampons that is less than the national average. Basilicata, Puglia and especially Molise have been more successful than the Italian average in injecting doses into the arms of the inhabitants. It is no coincidence that these three regions are the only ones in Italy where people have started spending on tampons – even with the green pass in effect – less than before. Because the country really knows a new fault line, among the many that cross it: between those who submit to a voluntary and avoidable tax, and those who do not.