Since the start of the pandemic, at least 18 million coronavirus tests have been carried out in Belgium at a total cost of €838 million. The number of tests has rocketed in recent weeks as holiday-makers return.
According to a report by L’Echo, Sciensano recorded over 500,000 tests in total in the week of 19 July 2021. Experts expect these high rates to be sustained through to the end of the summer and warn that thereafter, flu cases will rise as we move into autumn and winter. This weakens immune systems and increases the spread of the virus meaning that tests will remain an essential element of the fight against the pandemic.
Yet although the tests are a vital tool in slowing the spread of the virus, they come at a cost. For a standard PCR test, laboratories receive between €40.44 and €50.44 from the Inami – Belgium’s public health and social security institute.
Last year, almost three-quarters of tests were paid for by the health insurance body. “The Inami disbursed €230 million for 5.35 million tests,” confirmed An-Sofie Soens, spokesperson for the organisation.
The bill will be much higher this year with 11.1 million tests already carried out. The Inami predicts spending €608 million to cover costs of which €554 will pay for PCR tests and rapid tests.
A total of €838 million has already been spent by authorities on tests. This accounts for the cost of two free PCR tests provided to those who have been partially vaccinated and who wish to travel abroad or participate in large-scale events.