Now, before you go, “Wah seh, testing millions of people? That company must be as rich as Google!”, hold your horses.
Firstly, the company involved has only 190 employees, though its parent company is a big US MNC, Amgen Inc., which is one of the world’s largest independent biotechnology companies with over 22K employees.
And secondly, the population of Iceland is only at 364,260.
Now that makes more sense, isn’t it?
Company in Iceland Testing The Entire Country Population for COVID-19
The company, deCODE genetics, isn’t your run-of-the-mill biopharmaceutical company that develops drugs, file for patents then sell them at a high profit.
Instead, the company, founded in 1996, does studies on population genetics to “identify variations in the human genome associated with common diseases”.
This data is important as it’d help to develop ways to fight diseases, so they work with other biopharmaceutical companies to develop drugs.
Sounds cool? Right. Then COVID-19 strikes, and you now either love them or hate them.
The small country has its first confirmed case on 28 February, and since then, the spike occurred: at the time of writing, the country now has a whopping 588 cases—yes, more than Singapore despite confirming its first case at a much later date.
From today onwards, the country will also require businesses that require a proximity of less than 2m between people to stay closed—this includes hair salons unless people have invented a pair of long scissors that can still cut your hair without cutting your ears.
But before the virus went out of control over in Iceland, the CEO of deCODE genetics has offered to screen the entire population for COVID-19.
Now you know why this is controversy.
For a start, it’s revealed that there’s a shortage of test kits that could have hampered the containment of the virus: how is the company going to test the entire population?
Secondly, one can’t help but to question the real objective of the company: is it really to test for COVID-19 or merely a way to conduct businesses by leveraging on the coronavirus? The company did emphasise that people’s personal data will not be permanently recorded nor put in the company’s general knowledge bank.
It’s a capitalist world, and it happened.
Testing of Everyone in Iceland Still Ongoing
The plan has been approved by the Iceland health authorities, and tests are still ongoing. As of 21 March 2020, about 9.7K people have been tested. Not a bigly number but it’s considered high.
Out of the first 5,571 tests they’ve made, they found coronavirus 48 carriers, with half of them already been quarantined.
Their CEO said, “It is amazing to see how the community is coming together as one to deal with this threat. Here at deCode people are working 24/7 to screen for and to sequence the virus. The screening tells us where the virus is and the sequencing how it differs between the places where it is and how it continues to mutate.”
Well, this might work for a small country like Iceland, but please, if you’re a Singaporean, just do your part by washing your hands regularly and staying at home as much as you can.
I’m pretty sure no company is going to step up and offer testing for the entire population.
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