Newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo reported that there are currently 6.8 million coronavirus test kits stocked in a warehouse near São Paulo that are set to expire in December. The kits are of the most accurate RT-PCR variety — which can detect whether an individual has an active Covid-19 infection at the time of testing — and reportedly cost the federal government BRL 290 million (USD 54 million) to purchase.

The Health Ministry has confirmed the existence of these testing kits, but did not confirm the 6.8 million number printed by O Estado de S. Paulo.

The parliamentary coronavirus committee in the lower house of Brazil’s Congress will demand an explanation from the Health Ministry as to the reason for these tests potentially going to waste. The department’s Vigilance Secretary Arnaldo Medeiros has been invited to speak before the committee on Wednesday.

“We cannot have such a large planning error,” said federal lawmaker and committee head Luizinho, speaking to news website G1. “Cases are increasing, it is not a simple equation. But we want to hear what is happening from those responsible so we may understand why these tests have not been distributed.”

The tests in question will expire between December and January of next year. The Health Ministry is awaiting stability studies on the materials to verify whether expiration dates may be extended. With over 6 million confirmed coronavirus infections, Brazil is still lagging behind the rest of the world in terms of testing.

The daily average of RT-PCR test kits in Brazil has been falling since August and it is believed that only 5 million such tests have been applied on the country’s public health system since the start of the pandemic.

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