The antigen tests, with which the first wave of tests will be carried out in all public and private schools, should cost the state about 20 euros each. The deal is still ongoing, but several people involved in the negotiations believe that the final amount will be close to that amount. This means that the first wave of tests in schools alone, which is expected to reach almost 600,000 people, will cost the state around 12 million euros.
The government approved a sum of almost 20 million euros (19,802,880 euros) in the Council of Ministers last Sunday for “the purchase of services for carrying out rapid antigen tests in public educational establishments”. In a statement, the executive pointed out that the tests were also intended for “social responses in support of children in the social and solidarity sector”. After that, the government decided to test in private schools as well.
Pulmonologist Filipe Froes, one of the authors of the National Testing Strategy for SARS-CoV-2, insists that what is spent on testing should be viewed as an investment. “Testing is an investment, not a cost, to keep society open. Locking in has much higher costs for everyone, ”emphasizes the specialist, who regrets that when the new rules are updated, the tests are carried out every 14 days. “I and other colleagues have advocated that the tests should be carried out in less time. They were weekly, ”says Froes, who regrets that the final version of the standard has chosen to last for such a long time. “Control of the pandemic is based on control of transmission,” he believes.
Tiago Guimarães, president of the College of Clinical Pathology and another writer on the strategy, admits that molecular tests, also known as PCR, which may soon be performed on saliva samples, could also be the solution for mass testing. This is in spite of these analyzes, which cost at least three times as much as antigen tests. “There are already experiments in which five or seven saliva samples are put together and a single molecular test is performed. If there are positive results, we have to test this group to see who is actually infected, ”explains the doctor who heads the pathology service at Hospital de São João in Porto. “This strategy allows you to monitor a million people, for example, and is cheaper than using antigen tests, which are less sensitive,” says Guimarães.