Germany has spent far more than £48m on test and trace

17 March 2021
What was claimed

The cost of the German Test and Trace system has been £48 million.

Our verdict

Funding for the German system is complicated, but it has certainly cost much more than £48 million so far. Part of the testing cost amounts to about £1 billion on its own.

What was claimed

The cost of the UK Test and Trace system has been £32 billion.

Our verdict

The budget for the first two years of NHS Test and Trace is £37 billion. Spending up to the beginning of April 2021 is estimated at around £20 billion, but we don’t have clear figures yet.

A Facebook post shared thousands of times claims the cost of the UK’s Test and Trace system was £32 billion, compared with £48 million for the system in Germany. This despite Germany having a larger population and about half as many Covid-19 deaths as the UK.

Looking at the figures on deaths and population alone, the post is accurate. UK deaths after a positive Covid test stood at 125,484 on 11 March, when the post was published, while Germany has recorded 73,120 deaths. The UK population is around 66.8 million, Germany’s is around 83.1 million.

The Test and Trace cost comparison is incorrect and misleading.

How much has Test and Trace cost? 

NHS Test and Trace has not cost the UK £32 billion so far. We have written about this before.

In total, the government allocated £22 billion to it in 2020/21 and a further £15 billion for 21/22.

Actual spending was £5.7bn up to the end of November and is expected to near £20bn by the beginning of April.

What about Germany?

It is difficult to give a reliable estimate for the total cost of the German system, but it is certainly much more than £48 million.

Full Fact spoke to the German Federal Ministry of Health which told us the funding of this system was more complex than the post suggested. 

Firstly, German government is divided into a federal and state system, with some testing costs also being met by insurance. 

The details are complex, but the German Federal Ministry of Health told us that for every one million tests the federal government incurs costs of up to €21 million. On 7 March 2021, Germany had conducted 46,252,735 tests. A very crude estimate would therefore suggest that this has cost the federal government roughly €972 million, or around £834 million.

This does not include any money spent by the federal states on running testing centres, nor anything spent so far on contact tracing. So although it is hard to say how much Germany as a whole has spent on testing and tracing - and therefore hard to compare it with the UK - we can be confident that the total cost in Germany was far more than £48m.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as partly false because the government has not spent £32 billion on Test and Trace, the German government has spent more than £48 million on its Test and Trace system.

Full Fact fights bad information

Bad information ruins lives. It promotes hate, damages people’s health, and hurts democracy. You deserve better.