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30 April 2020updated 11 Sep 2021 5:02pm

What has the government learnt from its testing target failures?


By New Statesman

The Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland, admitted today that the government was unlikely to meet its own 100,000 tests a day target, Stephen Bush reported. “We have a pretty good idea that the United Kingdom’s four governments have achieved enough testing capacity to avoid hospitals becoming vectors of infection”, he writes. “But they don’t have enough to move towards widespread test and trace, let alone the necessary additional infrastructure.”

Writing for the New Statesman website today, Dr Phil Whitaker, also points out that “without an army of contact tracers, Matt Hancock’s 100,000 daily virus tests will be useless.” Testing is seen as one of the keys to ending the lockdown, but its value is diminshed if the recent contacts of those who test positive can be traced, allowing them to isolate and thereby reduce the rate of infection.

Downing Street had initially cast doubt on Hancock’s target, but afterwards said it stood by it ‘absolutely’.

Elsewhere in our coronavirus comment and analysis, Paul Mason writes that Keir Starmer’s cautious opposition strategy is vindicated by British Electoral Study data on the liberal-authoritarian social outlook and left-right economic outlook of the electorate. The Labour leader has so far been at pains to avoid being seen as scoring political points from the crisis. “According to MPs and former MPs, the same pople who were hostile to Labour over Brexit were also initially hostile to the party over being seen to ‘play politics’ with the coronavirus crisis,” Mason writes. “In the former ‘Red Wall’ there’s still plenty of support for Johnson”.

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