Participation in quick tests takes effect today (but 10 euros do not pay costs)

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Guillaume Horcajuelo / EPA

The rapid antigen tests (TRAg) to covid-19 will, from this Thursday, be reimbursed at 100%, a measure that aims to intensify its use by the population and strengthen the control of the covid-19 pandemic.

The exceptional and temporary co-payment scheme for rapid antigen tests (TRAg) for professional use was published on Wednesday in Diário da República, enters into force today and runs until July 31, “without prejudice to its possible extension”, according to the ordinance that creates the exceptional regime.

The ordinance, signed by the Secretary of State for Health, Diogo Serras Lopes, sets the value of 10 euros as a maximum price for reimbursement purposes.

The contribution is limited to a maximum of four tests a month and per user and does not apply to users who have a vaccination certificate (which attests to the complete vaccination schedule) or a recovery certificate, nor to children under 12 years of age.

The ordinance also establishes that the tests may take place in the pharmacies of workshop and laboratories of clinical pathology or clinical analyzes duly authorized by the Health Regulatory Authority (ERS).

Questioned by the Public, the Ministry of Health clarified that “the tests are free, but those made via the National Health Service can only cost ten euros.”

This means that, in theory, the user can ask a pharmacy or laboratory, if they join, for a free NHS test, and is given a declaration to sign. The test is carried out and the result registered in Sinave (National Epidemiological Surveillance System), with the bill paid by the State.

For ten euros who is going to do this?“questioned Manuela Pacheco, president of the Portuguese Pharmacy Association (AFP).

The newspaper points out that pathology or clinical analysis laboratories charge between 25 and 30 euros, the Portuguese Red Cross, 20 euros, while pharmacies that carry out rapid antigen tests charge around 20 euros per test.

“Only the tests that pharmacies use and that are validated by Infarmed cost eight euros. With two euros we don’t pay the costs, the necessary procedures, all the time involved, the collection, the downloading of data on the platform, the PPE [equipamentos de protecção individual]”, argued Manuela Pacheco.

The responsible considers that “15 euros would be a fair value, from a collaboration perspective, and no one would get rich”.

Furthermore, “how are we going to be able to find out whether or not users are eligible, how do we know if they have already been vaccinated or been infected. Tomorrow [quinta-feira] we won’t be able to clarify people,” he lamented.

If the objective is to limit the maximum price to 10 euros, the Germano de Sousa laboratory network says that will not participate.

“At this price [dez euros] we don’t do it, we have to harvest, pay for gloves, masks and gowns that we have to change from person to person. Only the kits they cost more than seven euros”, explained the owner of the laboratory chain, Germano Sousa.

According to data from the Directorate-General for Health, since the beginning of the pandemic in Portugal, March 2020, 13,137,838 PCR and antigen tests have been carried out.