iChongqing Title

The Cost of COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Tests Further Lowered down to 20 CNY

By VIVIAN YAN|May 18,2022

Chongqing- Recently, Hebei, Henan, Beijing, and other places in China have lowered the price of COVID-19 nucleic acid tests at the same time. Chongqing lowered the government-guided price of COVID-19 nucleic acid tests in public medical institutions starting on May 15. The price of "single-person single-check" has been reduced to no more than 20 yuan (about 2.97 U.S. dollars) per person, while that of the "multi-person mixed-check" is uniformly reduced to no more than 4 yuan per person, according to the Notice on Further Reducing the Price of COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing Items issued by the Chongqing Municipal Medical Security Bureau and the Chongqing Municipal Health Commission on May 12,

nucleic acid testing

Chongqing citizens are doing nucleic acid testing in an orderly manner. (Photo/ Chongqing High-tech Zone Media Center)

The "multi-person mixed-check," also known as pooled testing, means that samples from multiple individuals would be mixed together and tested as one instead of testing one person at a time. If the test comes back negative, everyone in the pool is clear. If positive, each member of the pool is then tested individually. This method can test more people faster, using fewer tests, and for less money.

Public medical institutions provide two COVID-19 nucleic acid test service options, including "single-person single check" and "multi-person mixed check." The price of testing items includes testing-related reagents and other consumables, which is the highest guide price for public medical institutions at all levels.

Meanwhile, the pricing of COVID-19 nucleic acid testing services provided by non-public medical institutions and third-party testing institutions, including medical testing laboratories, shall follow the principles of "fairness, legality, and good faith," reflecting the principle of guaranteeing small profit and consistent quality.

A medical worker took a swab sample from a woman for a COVID-19 nucleic acid test. (iChongqing/ Zhang Deng)

Specifically, the maximum price of a "single-person single check" has been adjusted from 28 yuan to 19.7 yuan per person, and the lowest price of a "multi-person mixed check" has been reduced to 3.4 yuan. In the centralized procurement of local organizations, the single price of COVID-19 nucleic acid testing is as low as 3.2 yuan.

When the COVID-19 nucleic acid test came out in 2020, the initial price was 200 yuan per person. As for the average production cost of nucleic acid detection reagents, researchers calculated that the average production cost per serving is not high, ranging from 3 yuan to 5 yuan.

Wang Jun, a senior researcher in the pharmaceutical industry, said that the COVID-19 nucleic acid testing kits are mainly sourced from government procurement. According to an interview with Securities Times, the purpose of trading quantities for prices through centralized procurement is not to make enterprises lose money but to lower the cost of intermediaries.

At present, China has a sufficient supply of COVID-19 nucleic acid testing kits, and the gross profit margin of companies may be regulated to about 20% in this case. Due to the relatively large amount of centralized procurement, those companies will choose to maintain supply even if their profits are compressed. However, their investment will inevitably decline.

The antigen test kit for the COVID-19. (iChongqing file photo)

(Wang Yuxuan, as an intern, also contributed to this report.)

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