Monday, 28 Sep 2020

Fury as Government admits major error in coronavirus testing – ’Shambolic!’

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During the government’s briefing on Wednesday, it was announced they had lowered the figure for “tests made available” by around 10 percent. The changes affected the data between May 14 and August 12.

An update read: “An adjustment of -1,308,071 has been made to the historic data for the ‘tests made available’ metric.

“The adjustments have been made as a result of more accurate data collection and reporting processes recently being adopted within pillar 2.”

According to the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), there had been a “double-counting of test kits that had been dispatched” which were not removed from the processed data.

Justin Maddens, the shadow health minister, has lashed out at the government and said it is “shambolic”.

He said: “To now retrospectively adjust the testing figures by 1.3m overnight – without explanation – is the latest in a long line of chaotic failings by the government on testing.

“How can we be confident that testing and tracing is working properly when basic data on the number of tests is obviously so flawed?

“Ministers need to get a grip of this as a matter of urgency.”

These changes were made after problems arose with in-person pillar 2 tests.

More tests had been sent to NHS Trusts and care homes and the problem was acknowledged by the DHSC back in July but the figures only changed from August 12.

Tests from pillar 2 involved all tests done from outside hospitals through commercial companies including care homes and home swab kits.

The DHSC said in a statement: “In July we became aware of an over-counting issue which we publicly and transparently acknowledged and have since sought to clarify these figures subsequently.

“This does not change the fact that we have rapidly built, from scratch, the largest diagnostic testing industry in British history, with over 13 million tests delivered, and capacity to test 300,000 every day.”

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The Liberal Democrat health, wellbeing and social care spokesperson, Munira Wilson, said: “With so many families torn apart by this pandemic, the government must recognise the fall in public trust in their handling of the crisis.

“To avoid questions of fiddling the numbers, they must be explicitly transparent in how they have changed the data and how they will rapidly build testing capacity.

“Ultimately, we need an immediate independent inquiry so lessons can be learned more systematically.”

Allyson Pollock, a clinical professor of public health at Newcastle University, echoed Ms Wilson’s comments.

She said: “The government needs to make clear what they mean by an adjustment and why the change has taken place.

“There are also big questions that should be asked about the Randox contract, and the one Deloitte is still not published, we should really press for that.”

Throughout July, testing kits by Randox were recalled by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) over concerns of their sterility.

Since the outbreak of the deadly pandemic, the government has been widely criticised for its handling of the virus.

Borders have remained open and the mandatory face mask rule in shops was only implemented in July, months after lockdown was put in place.

The UK currently has the highest death toll across Europe after surpassing 45,000 and fears of a second spike have been raised.

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