A cross-party group of MPs has warned the testing capacity for coronavirus has been ‘inadequate for most of the pandemic so far’.
The science and technology select committee has written to the prime minister, outlining a number of recommendations, after investigating the first few months of the pandemic.
In the letter, the MPs warn Boris Johnson that ‘capacity was not increased early enough or boldly enough’.
It adds that ‘very low numbers of people were being tested’ well into March, with the number of tests actually falling at a critical time to 1,215 on 10 March.
‘The committee has found a consensus embracing a broad range of experts from within the UK and overseas—including among the government’s scientific advisers—that testing capacity has been too low,’ the letter adds.
The letter was published a day after the government announced that everyone in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms can now get a test by visiting – www.nhs.uk/coronavirus
The government has also announced that 21,000 contact tracers have now been recruited, and will play a vital role working to reach those who have been in close contact with someone who has developed coronavirus.
The letter by MPs also calls on the government to ‘urgently’ build up capacity for contact tracing and set out a clear approach for managing the risks around asymptomatic transmission of the disease.
‘The government has drawn extensively on scientific advice during the pandemic and should continue to do so,’ said committee chair, Greg Clark.
‘The government should follow the best traditions of science in being transparent about the evidence and advice on which it makes decisions, and by being willing to continually learn from evidence and experience and not being afraid to adjust its approach in response,’ he added.
‘Greater transparency around scientific advice; putting capacity in place in advance of need, such as in testing and vaccines; collecting more data earlier and learning from other countries’ approaches are some of the early lessons of this pandemic that are relevant to further decisions that will need to be taken during the weeks and months ahead.’
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