Full width home advertisement

Post Page Advertisement [Top]

Health Secretary admits virus peak is on its way - amid fury that government still hasn't got ANY usable antibody kits that are crucial to getting Britain back to work

Health Secretary admits virus peak is on its way - amid fury that government still hasn't got ANY usable antibody kits that are crucial to getting Britain back to work
  • Government ministers face mounting backlash over the UK's slow increase in coronavirus testing numbers 
  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock has pledged to increase testing capacity to 100,000 by the end of the month 
  • But there are huge questions over how the government will hit that number given scale of current efforts
  • Mr Hancock suggested yesterday that the testing figure will be hit with a mix of antigen and antibody tests
  • Antigen can tell if someone currently has the virus while antibody shows if someone has already had it
  • The latter is the key to getting UK back to work but Mr Hancock said UK is yet to fine a 'reliable' testing kit 
  • Mr Hancock today suggested lockdown will not end until at least the end of April due to need to boost tests
Health Secretary Matt Hancock today warned the UK's coronavirus outbreak could peak over the Easter weekend and by next Sunday up to 1,000 people a day could be dying from the deadly disease. 
Mr Hancock said it was 'perfectly possible' that the one-day death record of 569, recorded yesterday, could double next week.   
It came after he was forced to admit his pledge to boost COVID-19 testing capacity to 100,000 per day by the end of April did not include antibody kits, which are seen as crucial to getting the UK back up and running because they can reveal who has had, and is now immune to, the coronavirus. 
But the Government's shambolic handling of the testing crisis was today exposed by scientists and commercial laboratories, who claimed they offered to help the government two weeks ago to increase antigen testing - which only tell if someone is currently infected - but were ignored. 
Increasing swab testing - sometimes called antigen testing - is also viewed as crucial because it allows officials to test more self-isolating health workers and to say for certain whether they have the disease, allowing those who do not to return to the NHS frontline.
Public Health England is believed to be assessing up to 150 different antibody tests but several kits have already failed medical checks, including one that was wrong 75 per cent of the time. Officials have not revealed how accurate the tests need to be before they will finally give them the green-light. 
Manufacturers of antibody tests who have sent them to PHE for assessment today said there was still no clarity on whether their kits were going to be used despite some claiming their devices are 98 per cent accurate. An Essex-based maker of DIY kits claimed officials won't even look at its product because it is a self-test, as opposed to one used by medics.
The UK is able to conduct antibody tests at its specialist military laboratory at Porton Down in Wiltshire. Some 3,500 of those tests are currently being carried out each week as part of a population sampling effort to establish how many people have had coronavirus. But that test is laboratory-based and allegedly cannot be scaled up.
Mr Hancock's intervention came as: 
  • Global coronavirus cases soared past one million as the pandemic explodes in the US and the death tolls continue to climb in Italy and Spain;
  • The family of Britain's youngest coronavirus victim - 13-year-old Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab - will not be able to attend his funeral because they are in self-isolation after his brother and sister developed symptoms;
  • A frontline nurse - 36-year-old Areema Nasreen - died after testing positive for coronavirus, becoming the country's youngest health worker to be killed with the disease;
  • Sir Philip Green provoked outrage as he demanded emergency taxpayer help to pay the wages of 14,500 workers he has furloughed during the coronavirus lockdown;
  • Gary Lineker blasted Matt Hancock's demand for Premier League footballers to rush into coronavirus pay cuts as Gary Neville said the Health Secretary has 'a f***ing cheek';
  • Rishi Sunak turned on the spending taps yet again with more support for ailing businesses and increased pressure on banks to lend money;
  • Sky customers across the South of England have reported being unable to access the internet as millions of people work from home amid the coronavirus lockdown;
  • The Prince of Wales officially opened the new NHS Nightingale Hospital for intensive care coronavirus patients, saying from 530 miles away that it was a message of hope for those who may need it most;
  • Britons are still being told face masks do not protect them from coronavirus despite the US dramatically switching its stance overnight and advising all Americans to wear them;
  • Health chiefs urged locked-down Britons to continue staying at home to help fight the coronavirus pandemic this weekend as a mini-heatwave is due to sweep the country;
  • Heathrow Airport announced it will remain operational with one runway amid falling flight numbers and fury from passengers at lack of medical advice when they arrive back from coronavirus hotspots.
Number 10 yesterday performed a screeching U-turn on its testing policy as it abandoned the previous centralised approach by health chiefs and finally invited the wider science and medical research sectors to help, with private labs now joining the effort to process thousands of swab tests.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock, pictured at the opening of the Nightingale Hospital in London today, suggested the UK's lockdown will be in place until the end of April at the earliestHealth Secretary Matt Hancock, pictured at the opening of the Nightingale Hospital in London today, suggested the UK's lockdown will be in place until the end of April at the earliest
Mr Hancock returned to work yesterday after spending a week in isolation after catching coronavirus. 
Today he was grilled on his test pledge during numerous broadcast interviews as he was repeatedly asked what proportion of the 100,000 tests would be antibody. 
'I think that the antibody test, the blood test, at the moment we haven't got a reliable home test,' he said.
'If we manage to get one then that can be easily replicated and we can get into even higher figures, much higher figures.' 
Asked why the government was factoring in the antibody test for its end of April deadline given that it does not currently have a test to use, Mr Hancock then replied:  'Yes, but I am not assuming any come on stream, that is pillar three as we call it, in order to hit the 100,000 target.' 
The UK is able to conduct antibody tests at its specialist military laboratory at Porton Down in Wiltshire. Some 3,500 of those tests are currently being carried out a day as part of a population sampling effort to establish how many people have had coronavirus.
But that test is laboratory-based and cannot be scaled up or put into the form of a simple blood testing kit which people could use at home. 
Public Health England is said to be looking at 150 different coronavirus antibody kits but the organisation is yet to find one which works and can be rolled out at a mass scale. 
Health experts have said they cannot yet guarantee that people who have had the virus will have total immunity but they do believe those who have already had it will have some resistance.  
Mr Hancock said he had been told it is 'highly likely' he now has immunity but 'it is not certain'. 
The row over antibody testing came as Mr Hancock signalled the nation could have a long wait for the end of lockdown. 
He suggested a mass testing and tracing programme will have to be put in place before restrictions can be lifted. 
Such a programme would allow health experts to stop a second wave of the outbreak because people who catch coronavirus could be isolated quickly and all the people who they had come into contact with could also be found and tested. 
He told the BBC: 'The first step is to get the rate of infection down so that that isn't increasing and as you say it takes some time after the lockdown is put in place to get that rate of infection, the rate of transmission down. That is the first step. 
'Then we need to make sure that we have the testing in place and the tracking so that if we release any of the measures we don't simply then have the infection spread again in the way that it was starting to spread when we brought the measures into place. So it is a very difficult thing.'  
Mr Hancock painted a tough picture of contracting the virus as he said he had lost half a stone in weight during his week in self-isolation with the killer bug. 
He said it was a 'pretty unpleasant experience' and felt like he had 'glass in my throat'. 
Told this morning that Boris Johnson appears to be experiencing worse symptoms than he did, Mr Hancock told Sky News: 'I think he got it a little bit after me. In my case it is rough, especially when you are on the downhill part of it, it is very worrying, because we have all seen how serious it can get.
'I had a coupled of days when it was really very unpleasant and I have lost about half a stone. 
'But thankfully I have then recovered and I am now feeling fine and it is very good to be back at work. 
'I talked to the Prime Minister all the way through this. He is working very hard as much as he can from home obviously in Downing Street. 
'But I have worked with him everyday all the way through and he is doing what is needed and taking the decisions. We all wish him a very speedy recovery.'
The Health Secretary said that at the moment approximately 8,000 patients a day are taking the antigen test but the hope is that number will fall as social distancing measures slow the spread of infection. 
He told BBC Breakfast that around 1,500 frontline healthcare staff are being tested daily since centres opened at the weekend but that number is 'ramping up fast'.
Mr Hancock returned to work yesterday after spending a week in isolation after catching coronavirus. 
Today he was grilled on his test pledge during numerous broadcast interviews as he was repeatedly asked what proportion of the 100,000 tests would be antibody. 
'I think that the antibody test, the blood test, at the moment we haven't got a reliable home test,' he said.
'If we manage to get one then that can be easily replicated and we can get into even higher figures, much higher figures.' 
Asked why the government was factoring in the antibody test for its end of April deadline given that it does not currently have a test to use, Mr Hancock then replied:  'Yes, but I am not assuming any come on stream, that is pillar three as we call it, in order to hit the 100,000 target.' 
The UK is able to conduct antibody tests at its specialist military laboratory at Porton Down in Wiltshire. Some 3,500 of those tests are currently being carried out a day as part of a population sampling effort to establish how many people have had coronavirus.
But that test is laboratory-based and cannot be scaled up or put into the form of a simple blood testing kit which people could use at home. 
Public Health England is said to be looking at 150 different coronavirus antibody kits but the organisation is yet to find one which works and can be rolled out at a mass scale. 
Health experts have said they cannot yet guarantee that people who have had the virus will have total immunity but they do believe those who have already had it will have some resistance.  
Mr Hancock said he had been told it is 'highly likely' he now has immunity but 'it is not certain'. 
The row over antibody testing came as Mr Hancock signalled the nation could have a long wait for the end of lockdown. 
He suggested a mass testing and tracing programme will have to be put in place before restrictions can be lifted. 
Such a programme would allow health experts to stop a second wave of the outbreak because people who catch coronavirus could be isolated quickly and all the people who they had come into contact with could also be found and tested. 
He told the BBC: 'The first step is to get the rate of infection down so that that isn't increasing and as you say it takes some time after the lockdown is put in place to get that rate of infection, the rate of transmission down. That is the first step. 
'Then we need to make sure that we have the testing in place and the tracking so that if we release any of the measures we don't simply then have the infection spread again in the way that it was starting to spread when we brought the measures into place. So it is a very difficult thing.'  
Mr Hancock painted a tough picture of contracting the virus as he said he had lost half a stone in weight during his week in self-isolation with the killer bug. 
He said it was a 'pretty unpleasant experience' and felt like he had 'glass in my throat'. 
Told this morning that Boris Johnson appears to be experiencing worse symptoms than he did, Mr Hancock told Sky News: 'I think he got it a little bit after me. In my case it is rough, especially when you are on the downhill part of it, it is very worrying, because we have all seen how serious it can get.
'I had a coupled of days when it was really very unpleasant and I have lost about half a stone. 
'But thankfully I have then recovered and I am now feeling fine and it is very good to be back at work. 
'I talked to the Prime Minister all the way through this. He is working very hard as much as he can from home obviously in Downing Street. 
'But I have worked with him everyday all the way through and he is doing what is needed and taking the decisions. We all wish him a very speedy recovery.'
The Health Secretary said that at the moment approximately 8,000 patients a day are taking the antigen test but the hope is that number will fall as social distancing measures slow the spread of infection. 
He told BBC Breakfast that around 1,500 frontline healthcare staff are being tested daily since centres opened at the weekend but that number is 'ramping up fast'.

Matt Hancock's five-point plan to increase coronavirus testing to 100,000 per day 

Heath secretary Matt Hancock yesterday unveiled a five-point plan to boost the UK's coronavirus testing ten-fold in a matter of weeks.
The five points he unveiled were:
Increase the number of swab tests being carried out by Public Health England labs and the NHS to 25,000 per day by the end of the month 
Shortages of chemicals and swabs have been blamed for stalling progress in this effort so far. 
Potentially PHE and NHS labs are thought to have the scope to carry out 100,000 tests a day by themselves.
Vastly expand the swab testing network using universities and research institutions and private sector retailers like Boots and Amazon
The key move by the Health Secretary was to give the green light for universities, institutes and private firms to get involved in testing.
Up to now there have been complaints of control freakery in a Government insistent on using its own facilities to avoid getting unreliable results.  
Introduce antibody blood tests which would tell people if they had had the virus and recovered
This is the game-changing test that would tell who is able to leave the constraints of lockdown and get the economy running again.
Mr Hancock stressed that there are as yet no proven versions of this test, and the science of what immunity people have after the disease is still developing.
But he confirmed that the government is looking at issuing 'immunity certificates' to people who pass such tests, so they can get back to 'normal life'.
Boost community surveillance to determine the rate of infection and the spread across the country
The abandonment of community testing when the government moved from the contain phase to 'delaying' the outbreak was highly controversial last month.
The government wanted to focus resources on patients in hospital as number rose.
However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that without such mass testing in the community the government is 'trying to fight a fire blindfolded'. 
Boost the size of the UK diagnostics industry
Mr Hancock addressed head-on criticism that the UK was lagging far behind Germany in terms of test numbers.
He bluntly admitted that the UK did not have the same scale of biotech industry as Germany, where many firms already manufacture screening equipment at scale.
But Mr Hancock committed to developing that infrastructure - which will not be a quick task.    
Mr Hancock returned to work yesterday after spending a week in isolation after catching coronavirus. 
Today he was grilled on his test pledge during numerous broadcast interviews as he was repeatedly asked what proportion of the 100,000 tests would be antibody. 
'I think that the antibody test, the blood test, at the moment we haven't got a reliable home test,' he said.
'If we manage to get one then that can be easily replicated and we can get into even higher figures, much higher figures.' 
Asked why the government was factoring in the antibody test for its end of April deadline given that it does not currently have a test to use, Mr Hancock then replied:  'Yes, but I am not assuming any come on stream, that is pillar three as we call it, in order to hit the 100,000 target.' 
The UK is able to conduct antibody tests at its specialist military laboratory at Porton Down in Wiltshire. Some 3,500 of those tests are currently being carried out a day as part of a population sampling effort to establish how many people have had coronavirus.
But that test is laboratory-based and cannot be scaled up or put into the form of a simple blood testing kit which people could use at home. 
Public Health England is said to be looking at 150 different coronavirus antibody kits but the organisation is yet to find one which works and can be rolled out at a mass scale. 
Health experts have said they cannot yet guarantee that people who have had the virus will have total immunity but they do believe those who have already had it will have some resistance.  
Mr Hancock said he had been told it is 'highly likely' he now has immunity but 'it is not certain'. 
The row over antibody testing came as Mr Hancock signalled the nation could have a long wait for the end of lockdown. 
He suggested a mass testing and tracing programme will have to be put in place before restrictions can be lifted. 
Such a programme would allow health experts to stop a second wave of the outbreak because people who catch coronavirus could be isolated quickly and all the people who they had come into contact with could also be found and tested. 
He told the BBC: 'The first step is to get the rate of infection down so that that isn't increasing and as you say it takes some time after the lockdown is put in place to get that rate of infection, the rate of transmission down. That is the first step. 
'Then we need to make sure that we have the testing in place and the tracking so that if we release any of the measures we don't simply then have the infection spread again in the way that it was starting to spread when we brought the measures into place. So it is a very difficult thing.'  
Mr Hancock painted a tough picture of contracting the virus as he said he had lost half a stone in weight during his week in self-isolation with the killer bug. 
He said it was a 'pretty unpleasant experience' and felt like he had 'glass in my throat'. 
Told this morning that Boris Johnson appears to be experiencing worse symptoms than he did, Mr Hancock told Sky News: 'I think he got it a little bit after me. In my case it is rough, especially when you are on the downhill part of it, it is very worrying, because we have all seen how serious it can get.
'I had a coupled of days when it was really very unpleasant and I have lost about half a stone. 
'But thankfully I have then recovered and I am now feeling fine and it is very good to be back at work. 
'I talked to the Prime Minister all the way through this. He is working very hard as much as he can from home obviously in Downing Street. 
'But I have worked with him everyday all the way through and he is doing what is needed and taking the decisions. We all wish him a very speedy recovery.'
The Health Secretary said that at the moment approximately 8,000 patients a day are taking the antigen test but the hope is that number will fall as social distancing measures slow the spread of infection. 
He told BBC Breakfast that around 1,500 frontline healthcare staff are being tested daily since centres opened at the weekend but that number is 'ramping up fast'.
He added: 'At the moment we think that there are around 35,000 frontline NHS staff who aren't in work due to coronavirus. 
'The number is much smaller than some of the anecdotal evidence that we've been hearing, although of course there may be pockets.'
Mr Hancock has placed Public Health England director of health improvement John Newton in charge of overseeing the UK's testing efforts. 
Mr Newton warned today that testing right now would not lift the lockdown as he said there is 'no question'. restrictions needed to remain in place to 'flatten the curve and testing doesn't really influence that'. Swab tests at PHE labs will be increased dramatically to 25,000 a day; research institutions and private sector firms like Boots and Amazon will be brought into the screening system; antibody tests will be introduced if they can be proved effective; community testing will be bolstered; and the overall UK diagnostics industry will be enlarged.   
Mr Hancock rejected comparisons with huge testing numbers in Germany, saying the UK was building from a 'lower base' when it came to biotech capacity.
He said some of the prototype tests he was being urged to buy had failed trials. 
One missed three out of four cases, he said.
But he admitted that even with his new 'five point plan' testing capacity will not hit 100,000 per day until the end of the month - by which point he guaranteed that all frontline NHS staff will have access to checks. 
He said the longer-term goal was to have capacity for 250,000 checks every day. 

COMMERCIAL LABS OFFERED TO PROVIDE THOUSANDS OF EXTRA CORONAVIRUS SWAB TESTS TWO WEEKS AGO

Scientists who offered their help to the British Government's coronavirus swab testing effort say they never heard back from officials.
Universities, private laboratories and research institutes could have been processing thousands of coronavirus tests for weeks, they say, if they had been enlisted.
A COVID-19 testing row erupted this week after Germany scaled up its testing capability to 93,000 per day while the UK was still managing fewer than 10,000.
Public Health England, a government body separate from the Department of Health, is facing the burden of blame for insisting on developing its own tests and analysing results in its own eight laboratories along with around 40 NHS sites.
Academics and private sector scientists, however, say they have the machines capable of interpreting swab tests if they were given the right information.
There are believed to be thousands of the machines - PCR machines - ready and waiting in laboratories around the country and many owners are willing to help test NHS staff to help them keep working. 
Some have already taken matters into their own hands and begun testing medical workers in their local areas.
The scientists are capable of doing PCR tests, which look for evidence of the coronavirus inside people's DNA and are different to antigen tests, which also test for current infection but do so by trying to trigger a reaction from viruses in a sample'That is an important thing that we will be doing and are looking at but it is too early in the science of the immunity that comes from having the disease.. to be able to get clarity about that.' 
Mr Hancock paid an emotional tribute to NHS staff who have lost their lives, and expressed his 'deepest condolences' to the friends and families of all coronavirus victims.
'If the past few weeks have shown us anything, it's that we are steadfast as a country in our resolve to defeat this invisible killer,' he said.
'I am profoundly moved by the compassion and the commitment that we are seeing from people right across the country, and in the health and care system we have lost colleagues too.
'Doctors, nurses, mental health professionals: they have paid the ultimate price for their service - working to care for others.
'I just want to say this on behalf of all my colleagues in health and social care: I am awed by the dedication of colleagues on the frontline, every single person, who contributes to the running of this diverse and caring institution that our nation holds so dear.
'Many of those who have died who are from the NHS were people who came to this country to make a difference, and they did, and they've given their lives in sacrifice, and we salute them.'
He also declared that more than £13billion of historic NHS debt will be written off to place trusts in a 'stronger position' to respond to the coronavirus crisis. 
Downing Street said earlier: 'We acknowledge that more needs to be done in relation to testing. We need to be testing more people and we need to be making progress very quickly.' 
Yesterday a report by the Adam Smith Institute ranked the UK as being 26th out of 34 countries in the Western world for coronavirus testing.

BRITAIN'S ANTIBODY TESTING FIASCO

Britain's testing fiasco deepened today after an Essex-based maker of antibody fingerprick kits claimed Public Health England bosses won't even 'look' at them because they are DIY.
BioSure's chief executive revealed the firm - which already makes HIV tests - was 'ready to go' but had been snubbed by health officials who are allegedly not looking at self-testing kits. 
In hope of getting the Government-run body to change its mind and put its test through its paces, Brigette Bard called for Britons to share the message because the kit 'needs to be in the UK'.
Other manufacturers known to have sent their tests to PHE for trials today admitted there was still no clarity on whether they were going to be used.
Some kits Number 10 are known to be looking at in their promise to start rolling out antibody tests in mid-April claim to be up to 98 per cent accurate. 
Antibody tests are the only ones that can tell if someone has ever caught the deadly infection, which has struck 1million people worldwide and killed more than 50,000. 
Experts say screening to see if people have already fought off COVID-19 will be the biggest breakthrough in getting the country back on its feet and ending the Prime Minister's draconian lockdown. 
Ministers have already promised 17.5million of the blood tests, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock claiming they would be ready by mid-April.
But in another blow to the plan, it was claimed today that none of the antibody tests officials have already evaluated work. 
PHE is understood to be looking at 150 kits - but it is unclear how many have already been checked. It is also unknown how accurate they have to be to get approved.  

Matt Hancock describes coronavirus as 'like razors in your throat' 

Matt Hancock today described his battle with coronavirus as he said he ha lost half a stone and it had felt like having razors in his throat.  
The Health Secretary branded the disease 'indiscriminate' and said it had left him unable to eat or drink for a few days and he had been unable to sleep.
Mr Hancock, who said he had begun to go 'downhill' on March 26, claimed the worst part had been not knowing how bad things might get.
He told BBC Breakfast: 'When you're on the way down it's really worrying because we can all see just how serious this illness is.
'And, for some people, the people who often get into the worst of health and those who lose their lives, it's often because the lungs over-react to the virus, there's an immune response. And you just don't know if that's going to happen, so I found it really worrying.'
Having addressed the daily Downing Street press conference yesterday as his first public appearance back at work, he did a round of media interviews on Friday morning.
Speaking to ITV's Good Morning Britain, he said: 'I had two days or so when it was like just razors in your throat, a very, very sore throat. I couldn't eat and I couldn't drink.
'The worst bit was on the way down, worrying how bad it would get because we've all seen how bad it can get and it seems to be indiscriminate.'
Describing himself as now being back to 'full health', he said he was relieved to have recovered.
He told BBC Breakfast: 'Thankfully I bottomed out and started getting better, and for me it was short-lived and I was able to come back to work yesterday, and I'm in full health. But it is worrying. I've lost half a stone, it's quite a serious impact directlyNumber 10 yesterday abandoned the centralised testing approach of control freak health chiefs and urged the wider science industry to help boost capacity.
Matt Hancock declared the UK will conduct 100,000 coronavirus tests a day by the end of the month as he finally signalled a U-turn on the UK screening regime.
It came amid warnings 'time is running out' to scale up mass coronavirus testing to allow Britain to get a grip of the escalating crisis - which has killed almost 3,000 people.
The chief executive of one of the UK's leading laboratories urged the Prime Minister to summon the Dunkirk spirit and let 'small ship' labs start screening for the deadly infection spreading rampantly on British soil.  
The Francis Crick Institute has started swabbing NHS staff at one trust and aims to ramp up to 500 per day by next week and expand to other overwhelmed hospitals across the capital. 
Other smaller laboratories say they have volunteered to help with testing, too, among them the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at Oxford University and the Jack Birch Cancer Research Unit in York.
Another - Systems Biology Laboratory in Abingdon - is testing local GP staff already and Cancer Research UK said it is also providing equipment and expert staff to help with swabbing Britons.
But scientists say there are dozens of laboratories in the UK that already have the equipment needed to process coronavirus tests, and that any 'self-respecting' facility would be equipped to start immediately.
So where are the little ships that are sailing to the rescue? And how many tests can they carry out every day? 
Francis Crick Institute, London 
The Francis Crick Institute in King's Cross, London, has already started testing NHS staff from local hospitals and said it hopes to scale up to 2,000 tests per day



The Francis Crick Institute in King's Cross, London, has already started testing NHS staff from local hospitals and said it hopes to scale up to 2,000 tests per day
The Francis Crick Institute, a leading biomedical science lab in London, has already started using its facilities to test NHS staff from the University College London Hospitals NHS Trust.
It hopes to scale up to 500 tests per day by early next week with the ultimate aim of doing 2,000 every day - the equivalent of around 14,000 each week. 
The institute - a partnership of leading charities and universities - will aim to provide results within 24 hours, to enable NHS staff to return to work as quickly as possible.
In comparison, only around 10,000 patients are being tested every day in Public Health England's centralised approach. 
Sir Paul Nurse, director of the Crick, said: 'Testing is an essential part of the national effort to tackle the spread of COVID-19. We wanted to use our facilities and expertise to help support NHS staff on the front line who are battling this virus.
'Institutes like ours are coming together with a Dunkirk spirit – small boats that collectively can have a huge impact on the national endeavour.' 
Cancer Research UK has scientists at the Crick Institute who are involved with carrying out the tests and is also using its staff and equipment around the country to help test medical workers so they can continue working on the frontline without fears they are spreading the infection.
Executive director of research at the charity, Iain Foulkes, said: 'They are providing desperately needed capacity at a time of national crisis, and testing NHS staff quickly so they can decide if they can return to their life-saving work. 
'As a scientific research community, we need to beat the pandemic together – the sooner we do that the sooner our researchers can get back to beating cancer.'
Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford 
The Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at the University of Oxford, which usually studies human diseases, said it has offered help to the Government but not been commissioned



The Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at the University of Oxford, which usually studies human diseases, said it has offered help to the Government but not been commissioned
Some scientists with the right facilities have already volunteered to help the government effort but not had their offers taken up.
Matthew Freeman, at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at Oxford University, said in a tweet: 'We have many people experienced in PCR.' 
The PCR machines examine DNA taken from a nose or throat swab to look for signs of viral genetic material (RNA) left behind by the coronavirus. 
This is the kind of testing currently being used by Public Health England, which has eight of its own laboratories and access to 40 in NHS hospitals around the country.  
Mr Freeman added: 'We’d love to help and have been trying to volunteer for weeks. Must be many university departments and institutes in similar position. 
'I'd love to know more about why we can’t be used. Would be interested to hear if others have been more successful in offering services.
'I understand how complex it is: quality control, biosafety, ethics... But can't help feeling that in an emergency these could have been sorted. Less complex than constructing a 5,000 bed hospital in two weeks.'
The department - famed for the development of penicillin - would normally use its machines to examine the minute workings of human infections and diseases. 
Another lab at Oxford - the Butt Group, which studies genetics - added on Twitter: 'I echo this sense of frustration: we volunteered on day 1 and beyond being asked 3 times to list our expertise, have heard nothing.' 
Marc Dionne, a researcher at Imperial College London, replied: 'Many from Imperial in the same position. I've heard that one of the personnel shortages now is not people capable of running PCR but people capable of directing them'.
Systems Biology Laboratory, Abingdon, Oxfordshire
Systems Biology Laboratory in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, is already testing staff at local GP surgeries



Systems Biology Laboratory in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, is already testing staff at local GP surgeries 
Systems Biology Laboratory, a not-for-profit science company, has taken local matters into its own hands and is already testing staff at 14 GP surgeries in Oxfordshire twice a week.
The tests - it is doing around 100 per day, according to The Times - mean staff can continue to work safe in the knowledge that they don't have the coronavirus so aren't passing it on to patients.
Director of the lab, Mike Fischer, said he started buying the testing kits online around two weeks ago and they cost about £10 per time. He hopes to scale up to be able to do 800 tests every day. 
Mr Fischer said the lab was also using PCR tests and had ordered another 15,000. It is unclear who they bought them from or how much they cost.
He said: 'I wouldn’t be surprised if there are 1,000 labs like that. We actually have this incredibly valuable strategic resource distributed around the country.' 
Although Mr Fischer doesn't have official approval as a testing centre he said the Government was aware of what he was doing and was 'supportive'. 
Mr Fischer, who also co-founded the stock imagery company Alamy, said his team of five people could scale up tests to 500 each day once they have honed the process. 
Jack Birch Cancer Research Unit, York
One of the founders of the Jack Birch Cancer Research Unit in York yesterday claimed the facility was capable of carrying out potentially thousands of tests every day


One of the founders of the Jack Birch Cancer Research Unit in York yesterday claimed the facility was capable of carrying out potentially thousands of tests every day
One of the founders of the Jack Birch Cancer Research Unit in York yesterday claimed the facility - which mainly focuses on studying bladder cancer - was capable of carrying out potentially thousands of tests every day.
Professor Colin Garner, who said the UK must take war-time measures to fight the outbreak, claimed 'every self-respecting laboratory will have the equipment to conduct hundreds, if not thousands, of these tests every day'.
In a call to action, he said: 'My understanding is that the UK is building a large testing centre in Milton Keynes. Why wait for this to be built when there are labs and people sitting idle around the UK who could conduct these tests now?'
Professor Garner urged the Government to create an immediate task force comprised of the university medical and bioscience sector, cancer research labs, pharma giants, the NHS and other bodies. 
He said: 'Just as the government called for volunteers to help vulnerable people and got 750,000 people applying, they should now put out an immediate call to all UK lab scientists and enlist them in this national effort.'
'It is heart breaking that we are putting our medical front-line staff at risk when there is a national testing capability that could be used now.
'A centralised lab is not the answer. Regional labs should be created and all the above organisations enlisted... The UK has some of the best scientists and facilities in the world. Let’s get them working to beat COVID-19.' 

No comments:

Post a comment

Bottom Ad [Post Page]