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It may have taken the Competition Commission two years to cotton on to one or the more obvious rackets around, but finally it is investigating just why private laboratories were, until fairly recently, charging a uniform R850 fee for a Covid test. The windfall is immense: so far, 19.7-million Covid tests have been conducted, according to the National Health Laboratory Service. More than half of these — 10.65-million — were done by the private labs, mainly Lancet, Ampath and Pathcare, which charged R850 per polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. In recent weeks, they have slashed those fees to between R710 and R725 a test.

Still, these laboratories are likely to have scored more than R8.3bn in just 20 months, if we extrapolate the figures from SA’s largest medical aid, Discovery Health...

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