Ambitious plans to test 10 million people daily could result in tens of thousands of people unnecessarily isolating themselves, experts have said.
The government’s Operation Moonshot reportedly tests 10 million people a day at a cost of £ 100 billion. However, scientists have claimed that around 10,000 people could receive a false positive every day.
This will lead to “unnecessary isolation and hardship” for these people and their contacts, they said.
An article published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine calls for a “new strategy” for the Test and Trace program led by former TalkTalk boss Baroness Harding.
Scientists from the Universities of Glasgow, St Andrews and Newcastle said: “A new strategy with clinical input, clinical oversight and integration with local primary care and public health systems is needed.”
They claim that the decision to separate local health departments and GP systems from the private testing system may have resulted in “delayed outbreak control.”
They wrote: “In setting up a parallel testing system in the private sector, the local health departments and primary care were separated from the testing system.
“As a result, the statutory reporting system for reporting suspected cases was not complied with. This resulted in poor community data that likely delayed outbreak control. “
Commenting on Operation Moonshot, they wrote: “Despite the shortcomings of this largely private, highly centralized NHS test and trace system, it has been reported that the government intends to expand testing to include weekly tests for the entire population.
“Deloitte and a number of trading companies are being hired to deliver them as part of Operation Moonshot, a plan to ramp up testing to 10 million a day. The cost is £ 100 billion – 70 percent of the annual NHS budget for England.
“Ten million tests a day results in 10,000 people doing false positive tests every day, creating unnecessary isolation and distress for them and their contacts.”
The testing and traceability system will “continue to be ineffective” if it does not take into account local public health expertise and general practice, the researchers suggested.
The article concludes: “We call on the Westminster government to end the privatization of testing and to resume and invest in NHS primary care, public health and laboratory services and resources from current private ones Direct testing programs back into local primary care, local NHS laboratories, and local public health sectors. “