The UK’s Covid-19 response was found wanting once again this week after testing figures fell well below the government’s self-imposed target.
Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said last month that by the end of April Britain would be conducting 100,000 tests a day. However, recent figures have suggested this may be no more than hot air with just 29,058 tests taking place last Saturday and the month running out on Thursday.
Of course, there is a slight delay to this data and the number is in fact probably higher. But, none the less it would seem this total is highly unlikely to be achieved.
Failure to prepare
This is more than likely due to the UK, unlike other nations, having failed to prepare to carry out mass testing and therefore having limited resources to do so.
These tests are crucial as they provide the information necessary to inform workers if they are safe to return to work.
They will also prove fundamental in the containment of covid-19.
The recent introduction of the military to work hand-in-hand with medical staff in distributing tests at drive-through regional testing centres has shown that the government is certainly generating a significant push to achieve their goal.
Furthermore, the pool of eligibility is expanding, as all key workers are now able to book a test.
Dominic Raab said on Sunday that he expects to see a big surge this week that will put the government on track to hit their own target.
This was based upon the claim that the ‘capacity for carrying out tests is now at 51,000 per day’, which is still a long way off the target.
As well as this, there is the issue of the accuracy of the tests. Tests obtained from China were successful in signalling the presence of the virus in patients who were seriously ill, but it failed to identify it in less serious cases.
However, other tests have produced more consistent results. Within the medical specialities there has been a pooling of information, both internationally from those countries affected most by the virus and within the UK, as many of the viral symptoms and how they present to the ITU doctors has been very unpredictable.
Number of deaths grows each day
Whilst the government looks to achieve their 100,000 tests goal, the number of cases and deaths grows each day. With the number of deaths currently totalling 20,732 and the number of confirmed cases reaching 153,000 to date.
This begs the question of whether anything Hancock or the returning Prime Minister claim is true.
In Hancock’s address to the Commons on Wednesday he said that Covid-19 is ‘at its peak’. This proposes that figures will soon decrease, but with a chronic undersupply of testing one wonders how they can be so sure?