The 3G rule (vaccinated, recovered or tested) at the workplace, which has been in force in Austria by regulation since November, certainly gives business an additional boost. In Austria, almost a third of the population is currently unvaccinated, so they have to go for regular tests.
The business will not demolish from February 2022, regardless of the corona vaccination plan planned by the government. Anyone who wants to move freely in society during the pandemic must in future meet the 2G-Plus rule in more and more areas of life, i.e. vaccinated or recovered for a maximum of six months and also be PCR-tested. “The only solution to get the pandemic under control is 2G-Plus,” Havel is convinced. “That would be the only medically sensible thing to do,” said the doctor and businessman.
The Lifebrain laboratory group, founded in 2013 by Havel as CEO and Bernhard Auer as CFO, has been a partner in the City of Vienna’s “Alles gurgelt” campaign since this year. This means that in the federal capital at Billa, Billa Plus, Bipa, Penny or at gas stations, gurgle tests handed in must be sent to Baumgartner Höhe for evaluation. Tests of the city’s “gargle boxes” and retirement homes as well as the Viennese schools, which are paid for by the public authorities two to three times a week from the fifth grade onwards, are also carried out there.
“When the BBG (Federal Procurement GmbH, note) was first put out to tender, we were the best and cheapest bidders,” explained the avowed Rote Havel. In addition, there are orders from around 80 pharmacies in Lower Austria and from test roads of the Red Cross in Salzburg. At the moment there is a new call for tenders from the City of Vienna. “I hope to win this again.”
The company is cheap with the charged almost 6 euros for a PCR test – the price includes logistics, test kit and call center costs. The pure material costs amounted to 3 euros. “Before we came, the average price for a PCR test was 150 to 180 euros – we helped to bring that down to a reasonable cost level,” says the company boss proudly.
The previously high prices would have annoyed him. “This is a scandal in the pandemic.” It is “out of the question” if the pandemic is used to “rob the people”. “We saw that there was far too little PCR capacity in Vienna and we knew from Italy how high the costs actually are.” Now the test offer is “extremely low-threshold and cheap”.
The Novogenia laboratory in Salzburg is similarly cheap, but according to the information is much smaller. Other providers are the COVID Fighters or the Salzburg company Procomcure.
Lifebrain is no longer in Austrian hands. Three years ago the company was sold to the largest Italian private equity fund Investindustrial for around EUR 700 million. The company sold this holding company this summer for 1.2 billion euros to the French diagnostics specialist Cerba HealthCare. This is one of the largest laboratory chains, which in turn belongs to the Swedish financial investor EQT.
The location in Vienna will be there for a longer period of time. “We have come to stay,” said Havel. “When this pandemic is over, we will of course change the spectrum – we will then do infection diagnostics.” But until 90 or 95 percent of the population are vaccinated, this pandemic will probably not be over. And the risk that the next corona mutation “is so malicious that the vaccination does not work at all” cannot be ruled out. “Nobody really knows at the moment.”