Private labs on New Providence are sounding the alarm on “dirt cheap” COVID-19 tests being rolled out by Doctors Hospital.
The private hospital initially charged as much as $224 for COVID-19 swab tests but is now promoting Antigen tests for prices as low as $15.
Doctors Hospital announced that “in order to increase accessibility” it has reduced the cost of its RT-PCR test to $120 effective October 12.
The hospital also introduced a COVID-19 Antibody test and a COVID-19 Rapid Antigen test at $15 each plus VAT, beginning October 19.
However, local labs on the island are questioning the quality of these tests and why Doctors Hospital is able to offer them at a “dirt cheap” cost when the most affordable tests with the necessary approvals that labs could find cost around $40.
“How can they run the antibody and antigen test at this price?” asked one lab owner.
“Every kit that I look at with these approvals is giving me a cost of around $30 to 40 per test. If approved kits are not being used then everything else is pure junk and wasting the patients money.”
There has been much debate about the accuracy of some COVID-19 tests on the market that promise cheap and fast results.
Lab owners have questioned whether the cheaper test kits have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) authority or World Health Organization (WHO) or whether the kits are from China.
They fear if poor quality tests are used, it could damage the reputation of the entire industry.
“We need to get this right and testing must be performed correctly. Otherwise labs are going to get a bad name here.”
Small labs are also concerned that because Doctors Hospital has been working hand in hand with the government during the COVID-19 crisis, the hospital has been given priority over the smaller private laboratories.
“The large fish in the pond is eating up the small ones,” according to one lab owner who questioned the hospital’s ability to dominate the Covid-19 testing in the market yet still produce quality results.
“Are we driven by money, quantity or quality?” the owner asked.
In fact, another lab raised questions about the number of positive PCR test results being reported.
“I have significant concern.”
“Upon testing many of these patients four to six weeks after testing positive by PCR, I am finding that they have NO antibodies, neither IgM or IgG.”
5,078 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in The Bahamas. 55 additional cases were confirmed on New Providence on Monday.