Thursday, December 03, 2020

Is coronavirus testing cheaper in Pakistan than other countries?

Let’s compare costs with India, France, China, the UK and US

The government is yet to lower the cost from the existing Rs8,900. Photo: file

LAHORE: As Pakistan continues its battle against the deadly second wave of COVID-19, more and more tests are being taken to check for the virus. But these tests are too expensive and the government is yet to lower the cost from the existing Rs8,900, according to a The News report.

With a per capita GDP of just around $1,130, which is roughly equivalent to Rs180,670 per annum or Rs15,056 per month, a PCR test for Rs8,900 is unaffordable for the majority.

The figures are calculated after reviewing the Pakistani rupee to US dollar parity of Rs159.54.

Let’s take a look at whether it is cheaper to get tested in some other countries.


In neighbouring India, the test is for 800 Indian rupees after a recent cost reduction by its government.

Read more: Coronavirus updates, December 2: Latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic from Pakistan and around the world

Their GDP per capita is expected to reach $1,900 (11,682 Indian rupees monthly) by the end of this year. So India’s monthly per capita GDP is equal to PKR25,314.

The Indian rupee to US dollar parity is currently Rs73.78, while the Indian rupee to Pakistani rupee parity is Rs2.16.

United Kingdom

One of the cheaper antibody tests available in the UK was by Messrs Bupa, an international health insurance and healthcare group with over 33 million customers worldwide.

The test was £65, which is equal to Rs13,807.

Read more: Law Minister Farogh Naseem tests positive for COVID-19

These figures have been calculated using the Pakistani rupee to British pound sterling parity of Rs212.41.

In expensive British hospitals like Messrs Summerfield Healthcare and the Private Harley Street Clinic, which also deal in swab-based and antibody tests, coronavirus testing is much more expensive.

A swab-based and antibody test at Britain's Summerfield Healthcare was for between £99 (Rs21,029) and £149 (Rs 31,649) till a few months ago.

The Private Harley Street Clinic in London charged between £195 (Rs41,420) and £335 (Rs71,157) until recently.

United States

Someone with mild symptoms trying to get a test from a primary care provider in New York City would at an average have to pay $994 (Rs158,583).

For a primary visit with lab tests, the highest average for COVID-19 testing was recorded in Miami at $2,662 (Rs424, 696).

Read more: Sindh faces shortage of COVID-19 testing staff in hospitals, medical centres

In Seattle, the test was for $824 (Rs131,461), $1,222.48 (Rs195,034) in Boston, $1,034.20 or Rs164,996 in Chicago, $1,551 or Rs247,447 in Dallas, $1,197.35 or Rs191,025 in Houston, $1,372.30 or Rs218,937 in Los Angeles, $2,202.25 or Rs351,347 in San Francisco and $1,338.05 or Rs213,473 in Washington DC.

The rupee to US dollar parity is Rs159.54.


Till a few months ago, a test in France cost 135 Euros, according to French civil society watchdog Observatoire Medicaments Transparences. This is equivalent to Rs25,998.

The Pakistani rupee to Euro parity is Rs192.58.

In June 2020, WHO/European Coordinator of Health Emergencies Dorit Nitzan had said in press conference that the cost of the coronavirus test varied from country to country, but ranged from 30 Euros (Rs5,777) to 60 Euros (Rs11,555).


A COVID-19 nucleic acid test costs between US$22 (Rs3,510) and US$37 (Rs5,903), according to Beijing-based Center for International Knowledge on Development.