"The government still hasn't outlined reasons they stopped community testing in March"

19 May 2020, 15:42

By Fiona Jones

The Science Select Committee chair told LBC he has officially requested a report on why the government stopped community testing in March and why they rejected South Korea's coronavirus strategy.

Chair of the Science and Technology Select Committee Greg Clark is reviewing the government's decisions during the pandemic and has called for transparency on scientific advice.

Mr Clark was promised he would receive a report giving a detailed explanation as to why the government stopped community testing on 12 March and has not received this.

"We haven't had it and that is obviously disappointing...if you're not willing to look at why you took a decision and consider i in the benefit of experience and evidence, then the chances of you learning from that and being able to do things better in future are limited.

"We're not giving up on that. I've asked Public Health England to come back on that before my committee meeting on Friday to explain in person," Mr Clark.

"The government still hasn&squot;t outlined reasons they stopped community testing in March," says the science committee chair
"The government still hasn't outlined reasons they stopped community testing in March," says the science committee chair. Picture: LBC/PA

He said that if the UK does find a vaccine, "we mustn't do what happened to testing, and wait months for it to be available at the scale that we want it to be.

"What we should be doing now...is to make sure first of all we have got the manufacturing capacity available. Secondly the distribution mechanisms across the country so as soon as we get it it can be deployed in every part of the UK simultaneously, rather it needing to be rationed in the way that in effect tests were a few months ago."

Greg Clark confirmed Shelagh's question that PHE made a conscious decision not to follow the South Korean testing model.

He told Shelagh PHE did this because at the time South Korea had over 70 testing labs compared to the UK's one, which then became 12."

"They had considered the South Korean approach and rejected it so that led to my asking the witness can we see the assessment that was made. That is what hasn't been provided and we hope to get to the bottom on Friday."

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