Boris Johnson’s polls have continued so far as the coronavirus crisis engulfs the country and the world.
But Downing Street is well aware that the situation could turn very quickly with the extraordinary restrictions imposed on the daily life of the British.
The advisers warned that one of the main risks facing the government is the perception of “incompetence”.
And the spiraling mess over the failure to increase test counts could be a critical moment of danger, as it is increasingly seen as the only way out of the lockout.
Ministers have been accused of first ignoring experts’ warnings of the need for mass controls – and then of wasting efforts to raise the numbers.
Despite claims over the weekend that the UK performed 10,000 diagnostic tests a day, it turned out that the authorities had still not reached this level – although the “capacity” was apparently there.
No10 admitted that the PM target of 25,000 a day may not be reached until the second half of April, when the epidemic may have peaked.
Meanwhile, countries like Germany and South Korea manage to carry out checks more than once – an effort that may be essential to reduce the number of deaths.
There is also no clarity as to when the UK will have antibody tests that can be used to assess who has already gone through the disease and who has emerged with immunity.
Countries like Germany and South Korea manage to carry out checks many times more than the United Kingdom – and their closings could end sooner. In the photo, a technician in a laboratory in Berlin
Health workers are now beginning to be routinely screened for current symptoms, to keep them in the fight against the disease. PIctured is a car station in Chessington this week
The government says it orders $ 17.5 million but refuses to give details on where and when they will undergo clinical assessments.
Health committee chair Jeremy Hunt questioned his real commitment to community testing.
The reasons for the chaos remain shrouded in mystery, with the senior ministers admitting that they are grappling with the complexity of the situation.
Scientists have complained that the laboratories of research institutions and companies are unused, due to Public Health England’s determination to keep control over the testing.
Cabinet Minister Michael Gove accused global shortages of chemicals last night, but the industry rejected the idea, saying the NHS was getting what it needed.
NHS England has been reported to have been accidentally involved in a bid war with NHS Wales for kits.
In contrast, Germany has benefited from national biotech companies that manufacture test kits.
Whatever the reasons, the economy is now at stake – ministers warned that unless they overcome the problems within a few weeks and cannot indicate an end point for the lockdown, thousands of businesses could do so. bankruptcy.
But how could mass testing help the UK recover and get back to normal before permanent damage to its lifestyle is caused?
WORK THAT IS SAFE
Antibody tests have been hailed as a “game changer” because they would increase the resources of the NHS and allow the first emerging signs of economic remobilization.
It would also answer one of the biggest questions – what proportion of Britons have had a very mild version of the virus without even knowing it.
In the first case, front-line health workers may be allowed to return to work with the knowledge that they will not infect patients, thereby reducing the threat that the service will be overwhelmed by the epidemic.
But with enough tests, the benefit can extend beyond the NHS. The main workers could be put back into service, strengthening the electrical networks – where there have been warnings of power outages – broadband and trash.
On an even larger scale, “certificates of immunity” have been developed for those who have antibodies – so it is clear that they can resume a semblance of normal life.
This type of initiative could give companies worried about the future more room for maneuver and convince them to continue fighting rather than ending operations.
And this could slowly loosen the lock, so that “nonessential” activities return to everyday life.
Any essential worker who is positive for antibodies can return to work without worrying about putting themselves or their families at risk.
Professor Paul Hunter of the University of East Anglia said last week that antibody tests would be “essential” to recover from the epidemic.
He said: “For people who are particularly vulnerable and who take even more important distancing measures could relax them if they were found to be immune. “
He added, “When a vaccine is available for the first time, it will likely be rare. Such an antibody test would help advance the available vaccine, as the test would allow the vaccine to be used only for people who are not already immunized.
Science and Technology Committee Chair Greg Clark told MailOnline that if the government can get the antibody test, the errors in the antigen tests could be forgotten.
“It would be the big gamechanger. It is very unfortunate that we have not had the level of antigen testing that other countries have had, but if we deploy this to the scale of the millions they speak of, it would allow us to catch up and d ‘Be ahead of other countries,’ he said. said.
Metro trains were much quieter when large swathes of the economy closed. But tests could free immune people to travel to work again
DISCOVER OERE IS THE VIRUS
The World Health Organization says that if you don’t do mass tests on coronaviruses, it’s like “trying to fight a fire with a blindfold.”
Health workers are now beginning to be routinely screened for current symptoms, to keep them in the fight against the disease.
However, large-scale controls would be a big step forward, allowing authorities to identify hotspots, track the spread of the epidemic and adjust policies accordingly.
Localized outbreaks of illness could be accommodated with an intensive response.
London and the Midlands see many more cases than in other regions.
Own government experts have suggested that the tightening of the lock may vary by region and over time, with lower risk individuals being allowed to go about their business more freely.
Fears of a “second peak” in the epidemic if restrictions are relaxed would also be alleviated if there was better surveillance.
Health Selection Committee Chair Hunt said: “The reason why community mass testing is so important is in part because it is much less disruptive to the economy than the big blockages we have seen in most European countries. Offices, shops and restaurants are still open in most of these Asian countries.
“But, most importantly in Wuhan, they found that the lockdown had reduced the virus’s reproduction rate to 1.25. Remember you are trying to drop it below one.
“But it was only when they underwent mass tests in the community, quarantining C19 patients and people with C19 symptoms, that they achieved a reproduction rate of less than one.
“It is therefore internationally recognized as the most effective way to break the chain of transmission. “
Shops closed in the deserted streets of Whitley Bay amidst coronavirus isolation
BREATHE LIFE BACK IN BUSINESS
Confidence will be essential to prevent the UK’s economic capacity from effectively disintegrating during the foreclosure.
Former Cabinet Minister Lord Hague warned that thousands of businesses could close down within weeks unless they could see the end of widespread restrictions that deprive them of customers and labor ‘artwork.
Strong information on the prevalence of the disease, which has it. and who is immune will allow businesses to plan.
Many say that loosening the lock faster than six months is essential to their survival.
Experts say this is unlikely to be possible, even in part, unless there are mass tests. Unless they believe the government is serious about fighting the disease, the end for many businesses could come sooner rather than later.
Scottish entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne told MailOnline that the government’s “dismal” handling of the test crisis would send large numbers of British businesses to the wall – and delay the country’s economic recovery.
Gymnastics mogul and former Dragons star ‘Den said,“ The government needs to know about the tests right away. The more we are locked out, the more companies will go bankrupt. My company remits over £ 39 million a year to the government in VAT, PAYE and corporate tax. As long as we are closed, they get nothing.
BE CAREFUL OF IMMUNITY FOR HERD
The mass tests will allow health officials to determine how many people are immunized against the coronavirus and whether the UK, or smaller areas, is close to collective immunity.
The concept of collective immunity hit the headlines earlier this month when senior government advisers said they wanted to develop it to protect the country, a strategy that experts say could have cost thousands of lives.
Collective immunity will naturally develop as more people recover from COVID-19 and may protect the nation in future epidemics.
This happens when so many people have already had the disease and are immune to it that the virus cannot spread properly in the population.
Sir Patrick Vallance, chief scientific adviser of Downing Street, has suggested that up to 60% of the population should have been infected for it to work.
But it will be impossible to know how many people have recovered from the virus without performing mass antibody tests, which reveals whether someone has already been infected.
If a significant number of people in a city, county or region, for example, have already recovered from COVID-19, it could be sure that this area begins to relax the restrictions.
Or if this outbreak is successfully stopped and another breaks out over the winter or next year, understanding how many people have already had the disease could help the government decide more easily what to do next. to bring.
It is likely that the current situation will be the most severe action that will ever have to be taken against this particular virus.
Writing in the Mail last Sunday, Jeremy Hunt said that only tests will help the country move forward against the disease.
He wrote: “If we want to reduce the pressure on the NHS later this year, when the virus may be back, we have to start speeding up Asian-style testing now …
“Mass social distance will help smooth the curve, but only the tests will save us months, if not years, of anxiety and economic paralysis. “