Coronavirus: Can the UK still reach 100,000 tests a day? – BBC Newsnight

published on July 24, 2020

dr Unwin is guessing his bi-weekly covert test we're testing today you can either be tested on a Monday or a Tuesday morning the lab arranged to collect them they do everything for us and we get the results within two hours

Almost by definition him and his colleagues are working with poorly and vulnerable people nobody wants to infect anybody with a virus that could potentially kill them I mean the only way for us to do to know if we're a

Danger to our patients in terms of spreading the virus is by having testing it's as simple as that this kind of service is the exception though asymptomatic NHS workers generally don't get tested and most GP surgeries don't

Get this kind of service either does it surprise you that we're now a month into the lockdown and the GP surgeries aren't routine me being tested it's probably it's it's it's preposterous it's unbelievable that we're in this position

Of not being able to test and know more about this disease I don't know why that is we've all thought about it we've all debates it and we can't understand how we've got this stage doctor Unwin swab goes here it's a local PC on a lab part

Of a network of labs around the county trying to ramp up testing we are covering about 15 to 18 different surgeries across South Oxfordshire at the moment and to date we've tested about 450 different personnel all health

Care workers frontline health care workers and we have found to date three different health care workers who were completely asymptomatic and were unaware of the fact that they were infected and one of those instances the health care

Worker was actually working in a ward full of very highly vulnerable individuals but here's the catch this is being funded privately the government hasn't commissioned it or funded it and the network is still waiting for

Accreditation the question is is this the kind of capacity that the government could perhaps should be tapping into what's happening in this lab in South Oxfordshire is what the government wants to happen across the UK they're testing

In surgeries in healthcare centres and they've even started testing in care homes the problem is the government simply doesn't have enough tests to do this across the country the British government has had lofty ambitions on

Testing five thousand to ten thousand to two hundred and fifty thousand a day but after criticism that the UK hadn't tested enough Matt's Hancock declared that the government would hit 100 thousand tests by the end of April or in

Nine days time the Health Secretary sets up two core ways in which that targets would be met the first to scale up swab testing in NHS labs and hospitals the target for that was 25,000 a day in England by the end of the month the

Second was to deliver increased commercial swab testing for critical key workers in the NHS and across the UK by any calculation then getting to 100,000 tests relies on non NHS capacity from commercial University and third sector

Labs the Francis Crick Institute's compares this kind of capacity to Dunkirk the small ships analogy is equivalent to the small research labs across the country getting together bringing together their expertise their

Infrastructure their lab gear their kiss their reagents the machines the complex molecular biological machinery you need to run these assays and with their expertise help local hospitals provide the testing that they need

Yesterday's figures though suggest that that testing capability simply isn't being met yesterday the government carried out 18,000 206 tests way off their hundred thousand targets of these only 2407 were from outside the

NHS or public health England labs but the government says it's on course to meet its targets and has brought in rush a huge Diagnostics company even so with nine days to go it's still eighty-two thousand tests short yeah I

Don't think there was ever any scientific basis to this target I don't think there was ever any other number-crunching done the government says they're still vote s ting as flatlined capacity is up

But although 18,000 people were tested yesterday nearly 40,000 people could have in theory so why is testing not going up one of the issues we heard is that not everyone finds it easy to get to centralize testing centers and there

Are other reasons too and I think it's because the criteria for testing are still too strict for instance right now in health care worker setting symptoms are required before a healthcare worker can obtain access to testing routinely

We are not routinely screaming asymptomatic healthcare worker staff or asymptomatic people in the community or asymptomatic key workers back in Oxfordshire that asymptomatic testing is already happening Mike Fischer who owns

The SPL lab has funded a network of labs and says that they can do much more how quickly could you go from 0 to 10,000 well as a network we hope to be around 10,000 as capacity towards the end of April we're doing 1500 now and our lab

Is at the smaller end partly because the way we do the tests so in a week or a week and a half you're saying you could get up to 10,000 we could get up to 10,000 at the moment however this network exists without government

Backing Mike believes it's the kind of small ship that the government should be doing more to support so get out of this lockdown I would say if there's one lesson that's very clear for all government so far is that unless you are

Very very prepared which few governments were you don't want to just be putting all of you eggs in one basket a return to normality means testing dr Unwin surgery is open partly because they know the staff here

Are safe to work to copy this up and down the country though will take an awful lot more tests

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