Tampons for unvaccinated workers paid for by the state?

Between private and public, there are still a few million workers without vaccines. An aspect that from 15 October will have important repercussions on the world of work and on the organization of anti-covid tests. From Friday, in fact, the obligation of the green pass is triggered to carry out work activities and those who are not vaccinated will have to do either a quick swab every 48 hours, or a molecular swab every 72. This means carrying out millions of tests every week. But our health facilities (including pharmacies), the Gimbe Foundation warned, do not have the production capacity to respond to such a request, as we have explained here. For the worker who goes to the office without a green pass, the fines vary from 600 to 1,500 euros, while the employer who does not control risks a penalty from 400 to one thousand euros. Basically, unvaccinated workers have only two alternatives to obtain the green pass:

  • show proof that you have cleared Sars-CoV-2 infection. In this case, the duration of the green card is 6 months (extended to 12 for those who have had a dose of vaccine);
  • having carried out a negative swab. In this case, the duration of the green pass is 48 hours for the rapid antigen test and 72 for the molecular. Which means that a worker without a vaccine will have to take 2-3 tampons a week to work. It is also an economic problem since the antigenic tampons, although sold at a controlled price, still cost 15 euros.

How to do? Today Beppe Grillo launched a proposal to ensure that the state pays tampons to workers without vaccines. According to his estimate, between now and the end of December 2021 the cost could be around one billion euros. “The workers without vaccine could be 3-3.5 million, out of 23 million workers, about 13% -15%. If the State decided, as desirable, to pay tampons to enter the company, these workers would need about 1 billion euros until December 2021 “, wrote the guarantor of the 5-star Movement on his blog, in a post entitled” On the green pass pacification is needed “.

To identify workers without vaccines and ensure that “the cost of the tampon is only advanced by the company but paid by the INPS as a balance, as usually happens for the ordinary redundancy fund on the payments of company contributions”, Grillo proposed an exchange of data between Sogei (the company that carries out IT consulting services for the public administration and which holds the data on the green pass) and the INPS. Such a mechanism “would not invade privacy except within the strictly necessary limits – explained Grillo – and in any case without any consequence for the workers, if not for the purpose of paying the cost of the tampon” and would have “the double advantage: one, of be fast, avoid queues and checks at company turnstiles, during which workers would certainly see their spaces of freedom violated, and two, to be free for workers, and to identify the cost and cover it with a special bonus, paid by the state “.

How many unvaccinated workers are there?

Grillo wrote on his blog that “to date, there are about 41 million Italians with complete vaccination, which corresponds to 80% of the population over 12. One of the best data in Europe – he continued – which should therefore suggest that the population does not vax in Italy is very contained “. According to the calculations of the founder of the M5s, “of the 19 million missing about 6 are under 12 years old, and another 6 about 12 are between 12 and 19 years old, and therefore are mostly high school students and non-workers. It is then estimated that there there are about 2.5 million over-60s without vaccine, mainly concentrated in the 60-69 years. Of these, more than half are retired and less than 1 million are workers. So we should have 19-12-1 = about 6 million of working age . Not all of these are workers: they could be unemployed, inactive and not employed, at least 2/3, therefore 2.5-3 million “, is the conclusion of Grillo’s calculation.

On the other hand, the numbers of the Gimbe Foundation are different: among the approximately 8 million Italians over 12 who have not even taken a dose, “there are 4-5 million people of working age”. A huge number of people who from Friday 15 October will have to resort to a quick swab every 48 hours or a molecular test every 72 hours. According to the president of the Gimbe Foundation Nino Cartabellotta, “we would have to do 12-15 million tests a week and this would not really be feasible, because we do not have this capacity”. According to Pierpaolo Bombardieri, general secretary of UIL, “more than two and a half million” workers are not yet vaccinated. Hence the request to Prime Minister Mario Draghi to postpone the entry into force of the green pass.

The cost of rapid swabs and how many tests would be needed

Let’s make order. Out of a total of 8 million Italians currently without a green pass, from 15 October the estimate of workers in the presence, between public and private, is about 3 million. Taking into account a five-day work week with, consequently, at least three quick antigenic swabs per week at the controlled price of 15 euros each, a no vax worker would spend 45 euros per week – 180 euros per month – to make swabs. to go to work. An estimate of the total monthly cost of rapid tampons to all workers who will have to use them, developed by SkyTg24, is 500 million euros. And how many tampons will you need from October 15th? An estimated two million per week of rapid tests, up to a theoretical maximum of 10 million in seven days. In the last week in Italy an average of 300 thousand swabs were performed per day. Our ability to test all vaccine-free workers may prove insufficient.

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