A huge controversy has broken out in Spain amidst the disastrous coronavirus crisis with the revelations that hundreds of thousands of tests for the virus acquired by the country's health ministry, acting under a new centralized regime to cope with the emergency, have been found to be defective. After an initial batch of 9,000 tests was announced as unreliable yesterday, the numbers have grown this Friday. First, radio network Cadena Ser raised the figure to 50,000. Now, it has been admitted that a total of 650,000 tests acquired by Salvador Illa's health ministry are useless.
The minister Illa himself confirmed this afternoon that 659,000 tests purchased will have to be replaced, acknowledging that they do not have "the required level of reliability". It appears that the scandal is so great that the ministry decided yesterday to leak it in stages.
With this figure, it is an entire shipment that is defective. The minister did not want to reveal who the supplier was, and he explained the situation by saying that the tests were Chinese and were bought on the basis that they conformed to European standards of reliability and approval.
According to a health ministry press releases, the defect was found in 8,000 tests from this shipment that had been sent to the Madrid region, and from there the entire batch of 650,000 units had to be rejected. He added that of the total, only 85,000 tests had been materially received. According to the ministry, "the manufacturer has accepted their return and will replace them with a new type of test."
This means that Spain will have to wait longer to be able to receive and activate rapid coronavirus tests, an essential action in order to be able to measure the true extent of Covid-19 expansion. Tests are essential to prevent coronavirus deaths, as seen in Germany and Israel, as they speed up treatment.
In the face of the situation created, one of the decisions taken by the Sánchez government is to switch the control and management of material purchases to the finance ministry, in coordination with the health department. During a press conference with Illa, treasury minister María Jesús Montero confirmed that she is "collaborating" with the health minister.