The Hawaii Health Department plans to destroy 750,000 expired Covid-19 tests that were bought in 2020 at a cost of $22.5 million.

Critics say that it’s not only a massive waste, but that the tests could have been used to save lives.

“If anyone else in the state had wasted ($22 million), heads would roll, there is no other way to say it,” said Dr. Scott Miscovich of Premier Medical Group Hawaii. “This is unconscionable.”

Miscovich said the tests were in huge demand last year. He said the Big Island asked for thousands of the tests to screen travelers, but the state refused.

The Health Department bought a huge bulk order of the B-D Veritor test kits back in 2020, each one containing 30 tests at a cost of $30 per test.

The state said the kits were purchased for nursing homes and prisons when cases spiked in 2020. It said no expense was spared in providing tests for the nursing homes to save lives.

But the state said it soon had too many tests after that the federal government began providing an easier-to-administer version to nursing homes.

The 750,000 expiring tests were then placed in storage, and the health department initially sought an extension of the expiration date.

“We have asked the manufacturer to do some additional testing. We don’t want to waste it, of course we want to be able to continue to use it,” Dr. Edward Desmond, administrator for the DOH’s Laboratory Division, told Hawaii News Now in March 2021 regarding the then-expiring tests.

But the DOH said Monday that the manufacturer would not extend the expiration date for its tests in the U.S. The state added that by the time the delta and omicron surges came around, some of the tests were a year old and couldn’t be used.

The DOH will now pay a contractor more than $63,000 to destroy the tests.

Quality journalism takes time.

A story that takes fives minutes to read often takes days to report.
 
Quality journalism takes time and resources to produce, but with support from readers like you, Civil Beat can investigate issues and publish stories that are otherwise difficult to fund.
 
Become a donor and help support Civil Beat’s next investigation.

About the Author