Cost of PCR tests paralyzes British issuing market

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Cost of PCR tests paralyzes British issuing market
Source: WTTC
August 10, 2021

This is stated by the World Travel and Tourism Council in a statement published today. They ask the government to cover the high costs for most travelers

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) declares that the government must bear the costs of extremely expensive and unnecessary PCR tests for fully vaccinated citizens.

Over the weekend, UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid asked the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to step in to investigate "excessive" pricing and "exploitative practices" among drug testing companies. Covid PCR

This follows widespread reports of large differences paid by travelers for different companies' PCR tests.

Currently, the cost of PCR testing varies widely between providers, averaging around £75. However, some companies offer express PCR test results in 90 minutes at a cost of up to £400.

This makes UK PCRs among the most expensive in Europe, in part due to the 20% VAT applied.

The WTTC says it's time for the government to pay for testing people who are fully vaccinated. 

This would eliminate the extra cost that is reducing travel demand, effectively halting the renaissance of international travel.

The government collects genomic sequencing data from PCR tests to quickly identify the variants of interest, understand transmission and slow propagation; however, the WTTC questions why consumers should pay for it.

The world tourism body believes that if the government does not foot the bill for PCR testing, it should at least replace the green and yellow countries needed for PCR testing on the second day with effective and affordable antigen tests for travelers. As in other countries, only people who test positive should undergo a PCR test.

Virginia Messina, senior vice president and interim CEO of WTTC, said: “For many people, especially families and small businesses on a limited budget, the crippling additional cost of unnecessary PCRs makes the difference between being able to travel or not.

“Of course, many British adults simply cannot travel abroad if they have to pay the excessive cost of PCR testing.

"The most affordable antigen tests will help keep travelers safe and make traveling abroad fit most people's budgets."

But if the government wants additional information for genomic sequencing, it must pay for it. If they don't pay, consumers will avoid international travel altogether, further damaging the already difficult UK travel and tourism sector. "

“At the very least, we support the investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to investigate the excessive price of PCR testing that is preventing the rebirth of international travel.

"But unless the government makes sense and accepts financial responsibility for PCR testing for those who are fully vaccinated, the WTTC fears the UK travel and tourism sector will continue to decline while travel demand remains depressed."

According to a survey conducted by WTTC knowledge partner YouGov earlier this summer, nearly half of British adults (47 percent) viewed COVID-19 testing costs as a major barrier to international travel.

The survey also found that concerns about the cost of testing outweighed concerns about personal health, which reached 34 percent.

Meanwhile, more than half (53 percent) of British adults said the cost of testing will have a significant impact on their budget if they travel abroad this year.

Last week, the WTTC also called on the UK government to abandon the messy and harmful traffic light system and replace it with the green and red list categories.

These more easily understandable rules, for ambitious and unvaccinated travelers, would allow consumers to know exactly where they are to make informed decisions about where to travel.

The WTTC says that according to its plans, returning visitors to the UK only need an affordable antigen test, with additional and costly PCR tests reserved for those who test positive.

Unvaccinated visitors would continue to have an exit test as well as a PCR test on the second day of their return.

The WTTC helped lead the coordinated international response to the pandemic's impact on the global travel and tourism industry, which has so far cost 62 million industry jobs and suffered a loss of nearly $4.3 trillion.


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