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Various posts on Facebook claim that while Germany spent less than £1 billion on their Covid-19 track and trace system, the UK spent £37 billion “and ran out of money”.

This is all false.

In contrast to NHS Test and Trace, which is centrally-funded, the cost of Covid-19 testing and contact tracing in Germany is shared between the federal government, state governments and local health authorities, and we simply don’t know what it all adds up to.

But we know for certain it has cost more than £1 billion. In August 2021, it was reported that the German federal government had spent €3.7 billion (£3.2 billion) on rapid Covid-19 tests over the previous six months, to say nothing of other costs incurred since then or in 2020. 

We’ve written more about the estimated costs of Germany’s test and trace system previously.

The UK also didn’t actually spend £37 billion. Test and Trace was initially given a budget of  £22 billion in 2020/21 and £15 billion in 2021/22, which adds up to £37 billion.

However, in 2020/21 it actually spent £13.5 billion. We don’t know how much was spent in 2021/22 yet, but the budget was revised down to £14 billion

The claim that Test and Trace, which underspent in its first year by around £8 billion, “ran out of money” is not backed up by any evidence we’ve seen.

Misleading claims about the cost of the UK’s Covid-19 test and trace programme have been common throughout the pandemic and often fail to compare like-with-like. 

For example, we have checked the false claim that the Irish system cost less than £1 million, which would put the cost per head at well under £1. In fact this was just the cost of developing Ireland’s Covid-19 contact tracing app alone. 

Image courtesy of Michael Beim via Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 4.0


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