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Health loses 1.2 million Covid tests that expired – 03/27/2023 – Equilíbrio e Saúde

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Around 1.2 million tests for the detection of Covid-19 expired in March 2023 in the stock of Ministry of Health. Evaluated at R$ 42.7 million, the products are from tipo RT-PCR and also serve for the diagnosis of RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) and from influenza A and B.

The minister’s team Nisia Trindade blames Jair management Bolsonaro (PL) due to the accumulation of tests with short validity. He also claims that he did not have access to data on stocks during the government transition.

“Upon taking over, the current portfolio management was faced with the quantities in stock without enough time for distribution and use, or without demand in the states”, says the Ministry of Health in a note.

Former minister Marcelo Queiroga said that “all data was passed on to the transition team”. “They know that, and a confidentiality agreement was even signed.”

Part of the lots expired on the 9th, while the rest expired on March 13th. A testing difficulty was one of the hallmarks of the pandemic in Brazil.

Ministry technicians issued several warnings that there was a lack of planning in the purchase of exams during the past administration. Health came to stock nearly 7 million short-term tests at the end of 2020.

To avoid attrition, the Bolsonaro administration tried to send the exams about to expire to Haiti and to philanthropic hospitals. The health it also delivered 1.1 million units to USP (University of São Paulo) a few days before the expiration date.

Members of the current government say that it was unfeasible to send the tests to the states in a few weeks, in this scenario of low demand and fragile testing policy.

Ex-President since Anvisa (National Health Surveillance Agency) and vice president of Abrasco (Brazilian Association of Collective Health), physician Claudio Maierovitch claims that the Bolsonaro government did not encourage testing.

“People had a lot of difficulty getting tested, which I think was intentional, the Ministry of Health and the government tried their best to prevent the numbers from coming to light,” he said.

For the doctor, the ministry lost its planning capacity and the new management took over the folder in front of a “dark screen”.

“There was no adequate inventory management, distribution, monitoring system.”

During the entire pandemic, the ministry sent around 32.5 million RT-PCR tests to the SUS. Considered the “gold standard” for diagnosis, this test is performed in the laboratory with samples collected from patients. The result is released in about 72 hours.

Other models, how to rapid antigen testsare processed at the collection site and confirm contamination in a few minutes. The demand for RT-PCR tests has dropped in recent months.

In the hardest period of the pandemic, SUS performed 2.4 million exams in one month, in March 2021. Since August 2022, the highest demand was recorded in December, when around 150 thousand exams were carried out.

Maierovitch still advocates that the government stimulate diagnoses and provide self-tests to certain groups.

“The rapid test serves for immediate diagnosis. But it should also serve to generate notification data. RT-PCR, and sequencing, serve to see which strains are circulating, if there are changes in the virus,” he said. the vice-president of Abrasco.

Stock data from the Ministry of Health had been kept confidential since 2018. Nísia management decided to present the list of expired products that have already been discarded or are on their way to incineration, in addition to those that are out of date and are still in stock.

The entire valid stock of Saúde, however, will remain hidden for one year, by decision of the Lula government. That is, only in March 2024 will it be possible to know what was in stock in the same month of the previous year.

This reserve time on stored products came into existence in 2018, when the Michel Temer (MDB) government was charging patients for delays in the delivery of medicines. The period in which the data would be hidden was five years and dropped to two years in 2022, under Bolsonaro.

A Sheet showed that 39 million Covid-19 vaccines won during the pandemic. They were still incinerated, in the management Bolsonaro, high-cost drugs for rare diseases and 1 million insulin pens.

After the disclosure of these data, the Public Prosecutor’s Office in the Federal District determined the opening of a civil inquiry to determine whether there were irregularities in the disposal of SUS products.

Products expired since 2019 and already incinerated or sent for disposal cost at least BRL 2.2 billion.

The Covid tests are within another set of data, on expired products that are in the Health stock. In this group there are also protective clothing for health professionals valued at BRL 136 million.

There are also around R$ 37 million stored, without expiry date, in products used as neuromuscular blockers. This type of product can be used as an adjunct to anesthesia to facilitate intubation of patients.

In a statement, Health said it considers “inadmissible” the waste of SUS products. “The loss of inputs demonstrates the neglect of the previous management. Even during the transition, several requests for information on the stock and validity of inputs were made, all of which were denied”, says the folder.

Asked about maintaining the secrecy of the current stock of valid inputs, Saúde said that it “recognizes the importance of transparency of information of public interest”.

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