Why are coronavirus tests so expensive?


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Former legislator and Monetary Policy Committee member Eddie Cross has asked a very pertinent question which most people are probably asking too: Why are Covid-19 tests, which have become mandatory for anyone who wants to travel, so expensive?

“It costs anything up to US$300 to get a Covid test. Here in Zimbabwe we seem to have settled at about US$70 a test – a bit better but still totally unaffordable to the great majority of our people,” he writes on his personal blog.

“This has been compounded by governments who have made it compulsory to get on a plane or cross a border, even though the test is not accurate.

“What is involved? Go to a tent, a person comes up to you in what looks like a space suit, sticks a tiny swab of cotton wool on a stick worth about 5 cents up your nose and then charges you a month’s income with instructions to collect the result from a laboratory somewhere.

“What is the cost? Maybe US$3 to US$5 a test? Good money to me.”

Below is the full blog

How do we deliver Health Services to People?

I really do think the Covid pandemic has been over played across the globe, but the one thing it has shown us, is how flawed our medical delivery systems are, everywhere. It was President Obama in 2015 who said that the world must prepare itself to fight disease on a global scale. He was referring to the outbreak of a disease in central Africa that killed 90 per cent of those it infected and was massively contagious. It was called Ebola.

But he might have used as an example, any one of the major disease problems in our past history. The Spanish Flu (another form of Covid) killed up to 30 million people in 1919. When I was a child I remember the panic over polio that left millions crippled or on iron ventilators in hospitals. Tuberculosis – remember the hospitals built just for this pandemic? Measles, malaria, yellow fever, all were, in their time, regarded as universal threats. Science has enabled us to control and even eliminate these problems.

There are several issues that concern me about the global Covid response. Firstly, despite the existence of the World Health Organisation, the global response has been uncoordinated and based mainly on wealthy international pharmaceutical firms and the rich countries. I guess this is inevitable, but it entrenches the haves and have-not’s syndrome which has emerged in the past 100 years. The result is that we have emerged from the first year of response with a dozen or more vaccines of varying types and effectiveness and at a cost of US$70 a shot to US$3 a shot and two injections required for protection at about 70 per cent. The first and most effective vaccine requires freezing down to minus 75 Celsius – an impossible target for 90 per cent of the globe.

Continued next page

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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