DeCODE to quit COVID-19 testing project
“Yes, this is clearly a new situation that has arisen and it is clear it needs thinking about all over again,” Alma said at today’s regular press conference.
“That work has already started here, of course, and more details will be announced when things progress. But I want to emphasise that the contribution of deCODE genetics has been immeasurable throughout the pandemic and of course in this project. And communication with the director of health and chief epidemiologist has been good and I want to use this opportunity to thank deCODE genetics and Kári Stefánsson sincerely for the collaboration.”
Is it possible to carry on screening so many and to prepare it in such a short time? “That will have to be seen, but as I say, we have started thinking of a plan B and that will naturally continue tomorrow. It’s too early to say,” Alma replied.
deCODE processed 1,941 tests at border posts yesterday and the capacity of Landspítali national university hospital is currently a fraction of that.
Kári wrote in a letter to the government on 1st July that he would like to see an Icelandic Epidemic Studies Centre set up urgently, and offered to house the centre on deCODE premises, at least to start with.
The prime minister replied on 4th July, saying that Kári’s suggestion would be examined and that a project manager will be appointed to work under the chief epidemiologist and instructed to report back on how to strengthen Iceland’s healthcare infrastructure, and to include specific reference to Kári’s suggestion.
In an open letter to the PM in today’s Fréttablaðið, Kári writes that she (prime minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, also pictured above) clearly does not take the problem as seriously as deCODE employees do. He criticises what he calls the PM’s determination to keep the private company testing for COVID-19 at full capacity while having no say on how the project is run. He writes that he is even more worried that Katrín seems to be in no hurry to set up necessary public sector infrastructure to take over from deCODE.
Kári writes that his employees believe the attitude of the PM and her health minister shows a lack of respect for the work of deCODE staff and the projects they have undertaken during the pandemic crisis.
The company has tested 72,500 people for coronavirus infection during the pandemic so far and Landspítali has tested 15,400. Kári says it is now time for his employees to start doing their real day jobs again and as a result, all active cooperation with the authorities is stopping from today. The company will continue processing COVID-19 tests until the end of 13th July. By that time, the authorities will hope to have made sufficient alternative arrangements.