Covid testing on arrival in limbo

Ásgeir Ingvarsson

The Icelandic genome research company deCode (Íslensk erfðagreining) will no longer handle Covid-19 testing at the Icelandic border after Monday, July 13th. Kari Stefansson CEO of deCode has sent the office of the prime minister a letter to this effect, giving the authorities a week to come up with a new arrangement for testing passengers arriving in Iceland. In his letter Mr. Stefansson also wrote that his company will no longer work with the Icelandic Directorate of Health on matters regarding Covid-19.

When asked by how testing at the border might continue Mr. Stefansson implied that the National University Hospital of Iceland should be more than capable of taking over from deCode, if given enough funding. He said that it would be in everyone's best interest that deCode no longer be involved in the project. “We have contributed a tremendous amount of work and enough is enough. Now we have to get back to our day job.”

A special testing facility was opened at Keflavik Airport on June 15th where all arriving passengers have been required to have a health professional perform a nasal swab that is tested for signs of the virus, with results ready the same day. Mr. Stefansson believes that a week’s notice gives the authorities plenty of time to take over, as deCode only had five days to do the same.

Mr. Stefansson had previously requested that Icelandic authorities begin the process of taking over the day-to-day operations of Covid-19 testing at the Icelandic border. He received an answer from the prime minister on July 4th informing him that a project manager would be hired to come up with a list of long-term alternatives to present no later than September 15th.


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