Laboratories in the biotech industry offered to process tens of thousands of corona tests in early April, but this offer was turned down by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS), a reconstruction of NRC. At the time, the laboratories’ offer could have taken about sixty thousand extra tests per day.
The extra test capacity was offered after an inventory among laboratories of the biotechnical industry by the interest group Hollandbio.
The ministry rejected this proposal because “many other options were already being taken up at that time”, a spokesman for VWS said against NRC. According to the ministry, there was also more than sufficient test capacity available for the test policy during that period.
Another factor in the rejection was that there was uncertainty about whether the test capacity of the laboratories could still be used after the summer, the spokesman said. Hollandbio denies having spoken to the newspaper about long-term availability, and says that he has only received a telephone rejection.
‘With today’s knowledge, contracting earlier would have been better’
Multinational Eurofins offered to build large-scale test labs in the Netherlands in June, but the ministry did not make use of this offer either. It was not until the second half of August, when the available test capacity could no longer keep up with the rapidly growing test demand and people sometimes had to wait days for their corona test to take place.
“With today’s knowledge, it would indeed have been better to contract large-scale laboratories earlier,” a ministry spokesman told the newspaper.
Court of Audit: The Netherlands could have tested more
At the end of September, the Court of Audit concluded that many more tests could have been conducted at the start of the corona crisis. Although the laboratories had sufficient capacity available to scale up, there was a shortage of test materials.
The cautious testing policy used by the Netherlands at the start of the corona crisis may have meant that suppliers supplied less test material to the country, the Court of Audit wrote at the time. The government also took insufficient account of the capacity released at the laboratories as a result of the loss of much regular care.
It is not possible to calculate exactly how many people could have been tested additionally.
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