Spain caps prices of COVID test kits amid surge in demand

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People stop in front of a closed pharmacy in Barcelona.
People stop in front of a closed pharmacy in Barcelona.   -  Copyright  AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, File

Spain will introduce price controls for COVID-19 home testing kits, authorities announced on Thursday.

The move comes after an outcry during the Christmas holidays when demand for rapid antigen tests outpaced supply.

The maximum price for the kits on sale at pharmacies from Saturday will be €2.94, Health Minister Carolina Darias told a news conference.

The price cap aimed to make self-tests “as accessible as possible while ensuring they are available at pharmacies,” Darias added.

The measure was unanimously agreed at a meeting of the Inter-ministerial Committee on Medicine Prices.

Spanish consumer association Facua recently conducted a survey of 150 pharmacies in five cities and found that prices for test kits ranged between €4.95 and €10 euros as demand spiked.

Spain has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks due to the omicron variant, placing public health services under strain and prompting officials to encourage widespread testing.

The Spanish government is also extending COVID booster shots to around 12 million citizens aged between 18 and 39 years.