govt-favoured antibody test, which shows whether they had the virus (of immediate benefit regarding enabling NHS workers to return to work).
What I wondered is how the chemical whose absence is claimed to be at the centre of testing shortages hasn't been named in media statements or questions.
And now even a leading epidemiologist talks of 'the chemical'. Doesn't it have a name? Odd, I thought.
Anyway, story below
UK can end coronavirus crisis ‘easily’ and ‘immediately’ with new plan, says professor
Britain has the capability to end the coronavirus pandemic ‘quickly’ and ‘immediately’ by testing each household every week, according to a leading professor. The Government has faced heavy criticism over its lack of testing during the crisis, while last week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock claimed the UK will carry out 100,000 tests per day by the end of April. But Professor Julian Peto, a statistician and cancer epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, insists the Government is able to arrange 10 million tests every day if it used every laboratory available in the UK. ‘Local labs are helping local GPs to get samples tested and getting NHS workers tested because there aren’t enough testing facilities,’ Professor Peto told Sky News. Read the latest updates: Coronavirus news live ‘But if you could test everybody in the country once a week you could simply stop the epidemic immediately and we could all go back to work. ‘That’s a far more important point and it’s rather got lost in the blame game in relation to who’s doing what and how many tests they said they were doing last week.
‘We need to do 1000 times more tests than we’re doing at the moment, 100 times more than the government’s ultimate plan. We need 10 million tests a day and we can do it quite easily if we simply use all the machines in all the labs in Britain. ‘It’s on a completely different scale from what we’re talking about. Everyone I’ve discussed this with, first of all it’s completely agreed that this would work, and if we could test everybody once a week we’d end the epidemic immediately and end it disaster safe and save tens of thousands of lives.
‘And secondly it’s feasible. I’m talking about antigen tests, detecting the virus, the idea is to test every household in Britain once a week, to everybody in the household. ‘If you find that one of them has got it you go into quarantine for three or four weeks, however long it takes for everybody to test negative. Everybody [else] is being tested every week anyway, and everybody else can go about their business because everybody is wandering around having negative tests less than a week ago.’ When asked if testing 66 million people in Britain on a weekly basis is feasible, Professor Peto replied: ‘Ten million a day is what’s required by getting all the university labs, all the commercial labs, who have got what’s called a PCR machine, it’s a completely standard piece of equipment, and it happens to be exactly what’s needed to do this test.
‘Every lab in Britain, a lot of them have got several of them, the big ones have got hundreds. ‘You’ve got to work what the pinch points are, we’ve got enough machines in the labs, we’ve got enough people who know how to operate them sitting in front of them, it’s fairly straightforward, we know how to organise a mechanism for getting samples. ‘You’ve only got to visit a household once a week, the Post Office does it once a day, it’s easy enough to get the samples, it’s a cheap strip you stick up your nose, basically, and it goes into a barcoded tube and you return it once a week.’
Professor Peto has also dismissed Government claims that there is a nationwide shortage of chemical reagents which has hampered the rate of testing. He said: ‘I don’t think that’s true. The point about the chemicals is you want to get them from people who manufacture chemicals, not people who make test kits. ‘And if the only reason we can’t stop the lockdown and prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths is because we’re short of a chemical or two, then the government should ask British biotech to make them as fast as possible and not sell it to the lowest bidder, they should all be able to make as much as they can.
‘It’s a war effort and if you decide the only obstacle with saving the economy and hundreds of thousands of lives is that we’re short of a chemical, surely we can step up the production. ‘The only issue seems to be whether the reagents are actually immediately available. Well all these labs have quite large stocks of these reagents because they run PCR machines all the time, and most reagents are standard, whatever you’re analysing. ‘And if there is a shortage of some reagents then it ought to be headline news that hundreds of Britons are dying a day, we’re losing £2 billion because we’re short of a chemical.’