Bavaria has developed a “super device”, announced Minister of Economics Hubert Aiwanger (Free Voters) at the end of 2020: “We have secured subscription rights for a thousand test devices and a million individual tests. If necessary, we can order further tests,” explained Aiwanger.
“Top-class quality product”
The test device should revolutionize the test strategy of the Free State. The advantages were and are obvious: The Octea rapid tests from the Martinried company GNA can be evaluated in one hour, the associated test device processes eight PCR tests at once. Aiwanger was euphoric at the time: “Nobody will imitate us anytime soon. It is a top-class Bavarian quality product.”
A special approval by the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) was already available, the devices could have been used immediately. But nothing came of it.
Rapid test should be used throughout Bavaria
A year later, the SPD health expert Ruth Waldmann criticized: The desired Europe-wide approval of the Bavarian PCR rapid test had not been achieved. And: “Not a peep from the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Aiwanger wants nothing more to do with it,” believes Waldmann.
Shortly after the presentation last year, a pilot study should prove the effectiveness of the new Bavarian PCR rapid tests. In February, Aiwanger and his cabinet colleague, Health Minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU), again demonstrated the advantages of the new procedure at Munich Airport. At the time, it was said that the results gave hope that the new rapid test could soon be used across Bavaria to contain the pandemic and specifically minimize the risk of infection.
Ministry of Economy refers to Ministry of Health
Then nothing happened for a long time. The pilot study promised by Hubert Aiwanger is still not available, complains Ruth Waldmann: “In the summer he assured that he would deliver the pilot study shortly. But this brevity continues to drag on.”
The Ministry of Economic Affairs refers to the Ministry of Health. That was what finally commissioned the pilot study. The Ministry of Health, in turn, had already stated in an answer to a request from Waldmann in August that the report had not yet been completed and was “still in the review process”.
A thousand becomes six
And the subscription right for 1,000 devices that the Free State had secured? The 1,000 devices became six. The state government has acquired this, plus 60,000 tests, for trial purposes – that is evident from the response from the Ministry of Health to the SPD request in August.
Nevertheless: In the Ministry of Economic Affairs, you are sure to have bet on the right horse. The ministry paid around eight million euros to the development company GNA for the contract to develop a PCR-based rapid test system.
The Free State of Bavaria is now to receive income from license fees, among other things. From the Ministry of Economic Affairs it is said that the “political criticism of the investment” is surprising: “In the near future, further payments by GNA in favor of the Free State of Bavaria in the millions are expected, which in total are well above the investment amount. Also with regard to the further developed company location and the qualified jobs for Bavaria, the investment made a lot of sense. ”
“World’s best tests” do not matter
A statement that raises questions for the SPD health expert Ruth Waldmann: Where should the revenue from license fees for the Free State come from if there has been no market launch? The member of the state parliament comes to the conclusion that Aiwanger’s “world’s best tests” played no role in the state government’s test strategy. And probably won’t play any more.