Coronavirus: Concerns over Boris Johnson’s ‘moonshot’ testing plan

Coronavirus: Concerns over Boris Johnson's 'moonshot' testing plan

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PA Media

Scientists and health professionals have expressed doubts about Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s “Operation Moonshot” plan for mass coronavirus testing.

The Prime Minister hopes that millions of Covid-19 tests – with some results in a matter of minutes – can be processed daily.

But experts say there are issues of laboratory capacity for current tests, while the technology for faster tests “does not yet exist”.

The British Medical Journal says leaked memos show the plan could cost up to £ 100 billion.

Speaking after his announcement Gatherings in England are restricted to six people from Monday, Mr Johnson said the government was “working hard” to increase the capacity to 500,000 tests a day by the end of October.

And he said that “in the near future” he wants to start using the test to identify negative people – who don’t have coronavirus and who are not infected – so we can allow them to behave more normally, knowing they can infect someone else. Not “.

Mr Johnson added: “We believe new types of tests that are simple, fast and scalable will be available. They use swabs or saliva and can turn round results in as little as 90 or 20 minutes.

“Crucially, it should be possible to organize these tests on a much larger scale than any country has ever achieved – literally millions of tests are processed every single day.”

Mr Johnson said the mass-testing program could be ready by spring and could help the UK avoid another national lockdown.

But Dr Chand Nagpaul, chairman of the Council of the British Medical Association, said it was unclear how the so-called Operation Operation Moonshot would work, given the “huge problems” seen with the existing laboratory capacity.

‘Defective’ strategy

Currently, 150,000 to 200,000 tests are processed daily – But the test capacity is said to be 350,000 a day. These include antibody tests and are used to estimate how widespread the virus is.

Earlier this week the director of the government’s testing and trace program in England A “heartfelt” apology for the problems with the test system, Explaining that the laboratories, not the test sites themselves, were “critical pinch-points”.

D Nag. Nagpaul added that the idea of ​​opening a society based on people testing negative for the virus should be “cautious” because of the high rate of “false negatives” and the risk of missing the virus.

Dr. David, Clinical Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter and Chairman of the Medical Academic Staff Committee of the BMA. David Strain expressed concern about the technology being discussed.

“The mass-testing strategy is fundamentally flawed, in that it is based on technology that does not yet exist,” he said.

“The prime minister’s suggestion that this ‘pregnancy test’ would be as simple as giving a result within 1 minute is not possible, if not impossible, in the period he was suggesting to get the country on track.”

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Media CitationThe prime minister said the new measures were “not another national lockdown.”

The UK finally plans to conduct 10 million Covid – 19 tests a day early next year – at a cost of more than £ 100 billion, which is close to NHS England’s full annual budget. According to a BMJ report.

The new rapid tests will be run from next month with an audience attending indoor and outdoor venues in Salford.

The government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vance Lens, said the technology needed to be “carefully tested” and “it would be completely wrong to assume this is a slam dunk”.

There were plans for a mass trial, as Mr Johnson said the UK would have to “work” to avoid another lockdown as the number of virus cases in England increased.

He created a new “rule of six”, Prohibit gatherings of up to six peopleAfter more than 2,000 new coronavirus cases were reported by the UK for the fourth day in a row, fines were issued or enforced by police capable of making arrests.

Mr Johnson said the rules had become “extremely complex and confusing” and the government was “simplifying and strengthening” them after feedback from the police and the public.

But Labor leader Sir Kerr Starmer said the new rules on gatherings were a reflection of the fact that “poor communication is a big part of the problem” with the spread of the virus.

The new “rule of six” means:

  • Social gatherings of more than six people in England will not be allowed by law from Monday 14 September
  • The new rule applies to people in private homes, inside and outside the home, and in places such as pubs, restaurants, cafes, and public outdoor spaces.
  • It applies to all ages
  • This rule does not apply to schools and workplaces, to cohabitants or to similar support bubbles, or to weddings, funerals and organized team games.
  • The full list of exemptions includes “strict risk assessment”, opposition to the provision of jury service and emergency assistance, and political activities.
  • Those who ignore the police can be fined up to 100 – up to a maximum of 3, 200,200 for each offense.

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