British Prime Minister Boris Johnson promises to increase the number of tests for coronavirus at least 40 times within a few months. The problem is that laboratories cannot handle even the current volume.
As you know, Britain has become one of the countries most affected by the pandemic. The coronavirus has claimed the lives of more than 57.5 thousand citizens. However, the spread of the infection decreased in the summer, and the government even managed to convince people to return to work. At the same time, the expert community notes that the authorities did not use the lull with benefit. When schools reopened in September and cases of the common cold increased along with the coronavirus, labs were unprepared for the increase in testing.
“We are slipping into the second wave of the pandemic without really learning the lessons from the first”, – said Rinesh Parmar, head of the UK Doctors’ Association.
“We are prepared for the perfect storm of problems that is looming over the winter”.
The collapse is confirmed by a number of facts. First, on Monday, residents of ten British foci of the spread of infection, including Manchester, were not able to get tested. Secondly, the workload on the laboratories is so enormous that samples from Britain were sent for testing to Italy and Germany.
According to The Sunday Times, over the weekend alone, the number of unfulfilled tasks on the testing program amounted to 185,000 samples. And all this after the calls of officials to be tested, regardless of symptoms.
It is noteworthy that in the spring the Johnson government planned to conduct 100 thousand tests daily. Such ambitious plans did not match the capacity of state laboratories at all. It took nearly four months to bring testing volumes to 200,000 per day, but last week Johnson set a new target for a high-speed diagnostic program that should test 10 million Britons daily by early 2021. This means that everyone in the country will be able to get tested once a week.
John Bell, a government adviser and professor at Oxford University, was skeptical about such promises. According to him, already now the demand for testing is seriously underestimated.
“The speed with which the second wave will come is underestimated, as is the pressure on the system from children returning to school and the associated testing requirements”, – he said.
“I think they are definitely lagging behind in getting the necessary tests for what we need today”.
Headaches and runny nose began to spread among British schoolchildren almost immediately after the start of the school year, writes The New York Times. A London teacher said just 10 COVID-19 testing kits were donated to her school with 1,000 students. School officials said the tests should only be used in emergencies.
Even in the healthcare system, there is a shortage of tests. Doctors are forced to cancel scheduled surgeries at the last minute because they cannot get tested. And if highly qualified professionals in the field have better access to testing, general practitioners should have samples taken in the same way as their patients.The head of the EC stated that the chances of reaching an agreement on Brexit are falling every day