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Coronavirus: Testing 15,000 people a day would cost State up to €450m - HSE

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Health workers prepare to give people free COVID-19 tests without needing to show ID in Virginia. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

Health workers prepare to give people free COVID-19 tests without needing to show ID in Virginia. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

Health workers prepare to give people free COVID-19 tests without needing to show ID in Virginia. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

IT would cost the State up to €450m if a target of testing 15,000 people for Coronavirus every day is required on an ongoing basis, according to the HSE.

In a briefing note to the Special Committee on Covid-19 Response, the HSE said “clearly this will not be a requirement every day” and that it is constantly monitoring this expenditure on a regular basis, to adjust projections.

The information was provided to the Covid-19 committee in response to queries regarding Covid-19 testing costs.

It shows that up until May 15, the estimated costs of testing for the entire Covid-19 testing pathway totalled almost €80m.

In a breakdown of this figure, the HSE states that a total of €33m has been paid to companies for the sourcing of molecular testing kits and other consumables. Approximately €23m has been spent on laboratory testing. The briefing note adds: “There are significant outstanding laboratory costs incurred for work undertaken to date which have not yet been invoiced as contracts are only concluding. These costs are currently being finalised.”

GP referral cost of just over €14m refer to a total of 481,581 Covid-19 related telephone consultations.

Just over €5m has been paid for the ‘taking of Covid-19 tests’. This refers to the gross costs of swab tests taken in community centres staffed by temporarily reallocated public service staff in addition to swab testing undertaken by the National Ambulance Service.

Contact tracing and active surveillance has cost an estimated €3m while the estimated cost of logistics for the collection and delivery of test samples is €450,000.

The total estimated costs to date for the development of a HSE contact tracing app is just over €370,000.

The briefing note update on the estimated costs to date to progress end-to-end COVID-19 testing infrastructure, from referral, community swabbing, laboratory testing, and provision of results, contact tracing and active surveillance puts the total at €79,934,000.

In order to achieve the necessary 15,000 tests per day, the HSE said that contracts and services have been put in place with public and private laboratories. A network of 47 sampling centres, 46 laboratories providing COVID19 testing and 9 contact tracing centres has been established.

The briefing note relating to costs states: “Given the global competitive nature of the laboratory provider and supplies market the HSE has had to take a commercially sensitive approach to contract terms with private providers. We are still in the market for ongoing supply of reagents and test kits. We are also constantly monitoring the private sector laboratory market to seek commercial and resilience opportunities which means the state needs to be very sensitive at this point to the commercial rates it has achieved.”

The HSE said that the development of a longer term testing and tracing strategy will include a financial plan for the on-going operation of the testing and tracing service.

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