From Iceland — COVID-19 Screening Swab Shortage Continues

COVID-19 Screening Swab Shortage Continues

Published March 25, 2020

Poppy Askham
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20,000 nasal swabs provided by Icelandic manufacturer Össur have been declared unfit for use in COVID-19 testing, RÚV reports. This comes as a blow to deCODE and the National University Hospital as both are struggling to source the swabs required in coronavirus screenings.

Iceland’s health service and deCODE have both struggled to find suppliers of nasal swabs due to sky-rocketing demand across Europe. It’s not just Iceland and the EU that have experienced these kind of supply problems, Canada and the U.S. have also been affected.

Iceland’s health authorities and deCODE must now wait for a shipment of 2,000 swabs from an EU manufacturer. The quantity was originally meant to be 5,000 but it was reduced at short notice. Officials are uncertain when it will arrive, but it is hoped it will be sometime this week.

Until swab supplies improve, tests will be rationed for use only by the National University Hospital. As such, deCODE will have to drastically downscale its screening programme.

Testing and quarantining have been central to Iceland’s response to COVID-19 up until this point. Over 10,000 people have been screened for the virus. In fact, Iceland has tested a higher proportion of its inhabitants than any other country in the world. However, it’s worth remembering that due to Iceland’s small population all per-capita statistics should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Correction: It was previously reported that Össur had manufactured 20,000 swabs, this is incorrect. They were not made by the company, Össur had a stock of swabs for their own use and provided these to deCODE and the health authorities.

Tune into our daily COVID-cast for more on recent coronavirus-related developments in Iceland.

Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.

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