Ministers repeatedly questioned during pandemic for failure to increase tests quickly enough, prompting Health Secretary Matt Hancock to promise to perform 100,000 tests a day by the end of April .
Asked about the differences with Germany, where the number of deaths seems to be increasing less rapidly than in the UK, Professor Chris Whitty said on Tuesday to the government daily press point: “We all know that Germany has taken ahead in terms of being able to test for the virus, and there is much to be learned from this. Germany is already able to test 500,000 patients per week and is under pressure to further increase this number.
Whitty had intervened after the government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, had given a more circumspect answer, saying: “The German curve seems to be lower at the moment, and that is important, and I have not no clear answer to exactly what is the reason for this. “
Vallance added that when comparing the experiences of two countries in the fight against the virus, it was important to examine the differences between their societies. “There are things to do with demographics, there are things to do with the way the systems are organized, and of course there may be differences in the way certain responses have been taken.” And we don’t know, but we are in regular contact, ”he said.
The two experts spoke during Tuesday’s briefing in Downing Street. Whitty was absent from the front line for several days after developing symptoms of coronavirus.
His response seems to contradict the ministers’ insistence that they have done everything in their power to speed up the number of checks in progress.
Many experts see large-scale testing as a prerequisite for lifting the British foreclosure, which Vallance says seems to help control the spread of the disease.
Former Secretary of Health Jeremy Hunt has repeatedly challenged his successor as to whether the government was testing widely enough; and fictional health secretary Jon Ashworth also insisted, although he was generally supportive of the government’s approach.
The lack of availability of tests for NHS staff was of particular concern. Announcing the latest figures on Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said 213,181 people had been tested for Covid-19, of which 55,242 were positive.
Hancock acknowledged last week that the UK needs to build a diagnostic industry almost from scratch, and stressed what he called the “five pillars” of the government’s approach.
These include the creation of new “super-laboratories” and the involvement of private laboratories across the country. He admitted that the government had “a huge amount of work to do.”
The government made a decision by announcing the move from “containing” the virus to “removing” the virus, saying it would no longer seek to isolate individual cases, but rather to test only hospital patients.
The goal of 100,000 a day has been questioned in recent days by the fact that several potential antibody tests – to determine if people have contracted the virus in the past – have so far failed to be effective.
The government has ordered 17.5 million tests of this type from several manufacturers in the hopes that they will prove to be what Boris Johnson has called a “game changer” – but Hancock said on Sunday that they did not weren’t good enough to use yet, and experts said a successful test could be in a month.
Hancock had previously suggested that the government was considering the idea of so-called immunity passports that could allow people proven to have had the virus to return to more normal lives sooner than others.
Whitty was also asked about the risks of the disease to residents of nursing homes and nursing homes, and he said they were likely to face some of the biggest challenges in the weeks to come, and he would expect the death rate in these homes to increase.