A prominent Sage member hit back at Baroness Harding’s claims that the NHS had not been warned that it would need to step up testing once schools reopened and people started returning to their places of work.
Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, which sits on the government’s Science Advisory Panel for Emergencies, said the body had given “clear advice” that a fully operational testing, tracking and tracing system should to be in place.
Giving evidence to the science and technology select committee on Thursday, Baroness Harding, head of the NHS Test and Trace program, criticized Sage for failing to predict the surge in test requests, telling MPs: ‘I don’t think anyone expected to see the really big increase in demand that we’ve seen over the past few weeks. “
She said the current 240,000 daily capacity has been put in place “based on Sage’s modeling for what we should be preparing for in the fall.”
“In none of the models, it was only [the surge in demand] expected, and this is why I said I think we all need to think very seriously about how we prioritize using these tests, that it is clear that you should only get tested if you have symptoms of the coronavirus, ”she added (see graph below for more details on how the UK’s testing system is breaking down).