They warn that simply using periods of mass locking and relaxation to control the virus could kill hundreds of thousands of people before a vaccine is available “with the most disadvantaged groups knowing the most great sufferings ”.
Instead, the group says one or more cities with 200,000 to 300,000 residents – about a dozen sizes ranging from Aberdeen to Bradford – should be used to test a mass testing program. The group includes Julian Peto, professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, David Hunter, professor of epidemiology at the University of Oxford, and Nisreen A Alwan, associate professor of public health at the University of Southampton.
“The quarantine would end when all the residents of the household test negative at the same time. Everyone else in the city can resume a normal life if they want to, “the group said in a letter to the Lancet newspaper. “A decision to proceed with the national deployment can then be taken. If the epidemic is brought under control, hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved, intensive care units will no longer be overloaded and the effects of the lockdown on mental illness and unemployment will end. “
He intervenes as doubts persist over how the government has reached its goal of 100,000 tests a day by the end of the month. Medical experts and scientists have suggested that it is both too large for the current demand for key workers who believe they are infected and too weak to be useful for a mass “test and trace” strategy to soften locking.
Allan Wilson, president of the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS), which represents NHS laboratory staff and biomedical scientists, said there was “no evidence base” on the figure. He said, “As far as I know, nobody built it from the bottom, based on expected demand. It’s not an easy thing to do, but even looking at various scenarios would help. “