Hong Kong spends up to HK$8 billion on Covid testing in three years

Hong Kong has spent between HK$7 billion and HK$8 billion in taxpayers’ money on conducting over 53.3 million Covid-19 PCR tests since the start of the pandemic.

When Headline Daily, The Standard’s sister publication, asked about the number of PCR tests conducted in the past three years, the Health Bureau replied that the number stood at 37.3 million.

The figure was recorded in community testing centers, mobile specimen collection stations, and lockdown exercises throughout the city between November 2020 and late August this year., the bureau added.

As of April this year, the expenditure was about HK$5.8 billion, the bureau also said.

The Department of Health also replied that around 16 million PCR tests were conducted from early 2020 until now.

The two numbers added up to at least 53.3 million PCR tests altogether years, and Headline estimated that it cost taxpayers somewhere between HK$7 billion and HK$8 billion.

Speaking to Headline, respiratory expert Leung Chi-chiu reminded us that testing costs should not be magnified, and the impact on society and the economy brought by Covid must also be taken into account when reviewing the figures.

Leung continued the figure recorded in Hong Kong is far less than that of the mainland and backed the efficiency of PCR testing. He noted the number may decline in the future as it is possible for Covid to become endemic.

Ricky Chiu Yin-to, chairperson and CEO of Phase Scientific International, Hong Kong’s Covid testing contractor, also spoke to Headline and said the cost was “definitely worth it.”

Chiu added that PCR testing can track the transmission chain of the Covid variant more accurately than rapid antigen testing can. He also said the city’s fifth wave peak in February would be worse without PCR testing.