The Government’s plan to reach 100,000 COVID-19 tests per day until the end of April seems nearly impossible, according to scientists.
Experts claim that announcing astronomical figures like this is against the rules of science, and it only serves for eye-catching headlines.
Michael Gove, the cabinet office minister, came out with a convincing statement on Sunday that the government’s target will be reached by the end of this month.
However, carrying out only 26, 626 COVID-19 tests on Saturday caused a lot of skepticism among the general public, as well as the medical experts.
According to the University of East Anglia’s Professor Paul Hunter, the number of 100,000 can’t be achieved daily, while Prof. Sheila Bird from the University of Cambridge said that there is a lof failure in the test reports. Other experts agree that the level of accuracy of the performed tests is outrageous.
Although on Saturday were performed only around 20,000 tests, Gove stated for The Guardian on Sunday that the testing capacity of the labs is inclining, and 38,000 tests can be performed daily. The British epidemiologist from Harward, Bill Hanage, believes this is only possible if all doctors and nurses work at full capacity.
The inability to give the exact number of performed tests on hospitalized patients, as well as critical workers and their families, makes it impossible for scientists to provide an accurate outbreak rate in the UK.
Bird said that better results could be achieved if all these different groups were tested separately, as the hospitalized patients are undergoing three tests (the first positive test, and two negative to confirm that the patient no longer requires medical assistance and can be transferred home.
The scientists agree that carrying out a large number of COVID-19 tests is only relevant if there is the capacity to properly perform them. Hanage said that the results from the current data are devastating, showing that one-third of the tested people are positive for COVID-19 and that the number of tests is below average. According to him, the UK needs to carry out enough tests so only 10% come back positive.
A perfect example of controlling the outbreak are countries like South Korea and Singapore that follow the encouraging advice of the World Health Organization to continue with population testing and contact tracing, which the UK abandoned in early March when the number of positive cases started growing.
Nevertheless, the health secretary, Hancock, announced on Friday that contact tracing would be reestablished.