'Government's twice-weekly Covid test policy is a public health disaster'

5 April 2021, 14:09

By Fiona Jones

Professor Allyson Pollock brands the Government's policy of providing everyone in England access to twice-weekly Covid tests as "a public health disaster."

The English public will be offered two free rapid Covid-19 tests per week as part of new measures to curb outbreaks as lockdown eases, the government has announced.

From Friday, people will be able to order regular rapid tests online, or collect them from a workplace, school, or local test site.

Pharmacies will also offer free boxes of seven tests to use twice a week, under a new "pharmacy collect" service that will be launched.

Professor Allyson Pollock condemned the new scheme: "This is a huge amount of money, the Government's planning to spend up to £100 billion on mass testing."

This amount is 70% of the overall NHS budget, she told LBC.

She continued: "They've already bought hundreds of millions of tests which have not been evaluated, but they don't want to leave them sitting on the shelf.

"The Government is rolling this out without any good evidence of the cost, the harms or the benefits, that's extraordinary. You wouldn't do that with a new vaccine and you wouldn't do that with a new medicine.

"Lateral flow tests are a problem because they miss people, cases are falling to rock bottom now, the majority of cases will be false positives and that will result in people having to isolate unnecessarily."

Professor Allyson branded the "biggest harm of all" in this measure is the "waste of resources": "It's giving a lot of money to commercial companies where the tests have not been evaluated and piloted in proper public health settings.

"This is a public health disaster."

The Prime Minister, who is set to unveil the next stage of his lockdown roadmap today, said the rollout of lateral flow tests will help stop outbreaks of coronavirus "in their tracks" as rules ease.

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