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24 April 2020updated 06 Oct 2020 9:45am

Government’s 100,000 test target not drawn up by scientific advisers, Whitty says

By Samuel Horti

The government’s target of carrying out 100,000 coronavirus test a day by the end of the month was not set by its scientific advisers, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty has said. 

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) is still “developing a view” on what the “optimal number” of tests are, he told the Science and Technology Select Committee.

He also said neither he nor Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, were opposed “in principle” to the membership of Sage being made public. Some individual members of Sage are known, but full membership has never been disclosed. The group is central to helping ministers shape government policy during the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier in the committee meeting, the chief medical officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton, told MPs that the government’s new website for key workers to book a free coronavirus test “was not discussed in detail across the four nations”. The website was inundated with requests, and had to stop accepting applications within a few hours of opening.

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