Lack of intelligence testing between countries has cost lives, Defence Secretary says

4 May 2020, 08:51

By Adrian Sherling

The Defence Secretary has told LBC that if countries had shared more intelligence about coronavirus, then lives could have been saved.

Ben Wallace spoke to Nick Ferrari to reveal how the military have played a key role in the huge growth in coronavirus testing over the last week.

That was necessary to create the contact tracing programme which the government believe will allow us to come out of lockdown.

But he admitted the world has a problem with intelligence sharing around viruses and that will have cost lives He said: “It came from the other side of the world and all of us have been learning on the job.

"If we had known from the outset about the virus, of course more lives could have been saved. But I don't think it is a country-by-country problem.

“I think it is a massive problem around how we share intelligence on viruses and learning at pace."

Nick Ferrari spoke to Ben Wallace about how the military are helping with the coronavirus crisis
Nick Ferrari spoke to Ben Wallace about how the military are helping with the coronavirus crisis. Picture: LBC / PA

Mr Wallace said: “Let’s remember at the beginning of this, the problem with testing was not the people, it was the shortage of reagents. I was involved in ringing round my counterparts in Europe asking if they had the reagents and they too didn’t have the testing reagents.

“So it wasn’t as simple, unless your country already had its health service designed to be diagnostic-front heavy like Germany was, to pop up the testing immediately.

“Of course, testing globally would have improved all of our chances with understanding this virus because part of the epidemiology is informed by knowing who’s got it and how they respond. I think that has been a challenge."

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