Cost of SARS-CoV-2 self-test distribution programmes by different modalities: a micro-costing study in five countries (Brazil, Georgia, Malaysia, Ethiopia and the Philippines)

By Megan A Hansen  Nkgomeleng Lekodeba  Joshua M Chevalier  Tom Ockhuisen  Paula del Rey-Puech   Elena Marban-Castro  Guillermo Zohar Martínez-Pérez  Sonjelle Shilton  Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassan  Vladimir Getia  |  | 

Objective Diagnostic testing is an important tool to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, yet access to and uptake of testing vary widely 3 years into the pandemic. The WHO recommends the use of COVID-19 self-testing as an option to help expand testing access. We aimed to calculate the cost of providing COVID-19 self-testing across countries and distribution modalities.
Design We estimated economic costs from the provider perspective to calculate the total cost and the cost per self-test kit distributed for three scenarios that differed by costing period (pilot, annual), the number of tests distributed (actual, planned, scaled assuming an epidemic peak) and self-test kit costs (pilot purchase price, 50% reduction).
Setting We used data collected between August and December 2022 in Brazil, Georgia, Malaysia, Ethiopia and the Philippines from pilot implementation studies designed to provide COVID-19 self-tests in a variety of settings— namely, workplace and healthcare facilities.
Results Across all five countries, 173 000 kits were distributed during pilot implementation with the cost/ test distributed ranging from $2.44 to $12.78. The cost/self-test kit distributed was lowest in the scenario that assumed implementation over a longer period (year), with higher test demand (peak) and a test kit price reduction of 50% ($1.04–3.07). Across all countries and scenarios, test procurement occupied the greatest proportion of costs: 58–87% for countries with off-site self-testing (outside the workplace, for example, home) and 15–50% for countries with on-site self-testing (at the workplace). Staffing was the next key cost driver, particularly for distribution modalities that had on-site self-testing (29–35%) versus off-site self-testing (7–27%).
Conclusions Our results indicate that it is likely to cost between $2.44 and $12.78 per test to distribute COVID-19 self-tests across common settings in five heterogeneous countries. Cost-effectiveness analyses using these results will allow policymakers to make informed decisions on optimally scaling up COVID-19 self-test distribution programmes across diverse settings and evolving needs.

Publication details

BMJ Open