Quicker testing would have been ‘beneficial’ says chief scientific adviser

The UK’s chief scientific adviser has told MPs it would have been “beneficial” to have ramped up testing for coronavirus quicker.

Understatement – Owl?

Angharad Carrick www.cityam.com 

Sir Patrick Vallance told the Commons Health Select Committee that testing alone would not control the virus. The UK government moved away from contact tracing and testing in the community before lockdown started.

Instead, ministers focused their efforts on testing patients with symptoms of coronavirus in hospitals, care homes and prisons.

England’s deputy chief medical officer Jenny Harries said that “things would have been done differently” if testing capacity had not been limited.

Speaking to MPs, Vallance said: “I think that probably we, in the early phases, and I’ve said this before, I think if we’d managed to ramp testing capacity quicker it would have been beneficial.”

“And, you know, for all sorts of reasons that didn’t happen. “I think it’s clear you need lots of testing for this, but to echo what Jenny Harries has said, it’s completely wrong to think of testing as the answer.”

Health secretary Matt Hancock today announced a goal of 100,000 coronavirus tests a day by the end of April. The government initially succeeded but has struggled to hit the target in recent days.

It came as the government rolled out the NHS contact-tracing app for the first time today. Key workers on the Isle of Wight are the first to trial the new smartphone app from today, and will be made available to the rest of the island on Thursday.

The app is an attempt to slow the spread of Covid-19 by informing people if they have been in contact with someone who later reports they have virus symptoms.

The technology relies on a large uptake by the population, so the government will be encouraging as many smartphone users as possible to download the contact-tracing app.