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22 May 2020updated 06 Oct 2020 9:45am

Many tests sent to households are never carried out, UK testing chief suggests

By Samuel Horti

Many of the coronavirus home tests posted to households and counted in government tallies are never actually carried out, the head of the UK’s testing programme has said.

Professor John Newton told MPs that “certainly more than half” of the tests posted out to households, as well as to satellite testing centres that supply healthcare settings such as care homes, had been used early in the programme. The government counts tests when it posts them, rather than when the tests are conducted, which inflates the numbers.

He said a “very large proportion” of tests sent to satellite centres were carried out, suggesting the figure might be lower for home test kits. The government wants to increase the proportion of tests carried out, he said.

He could not provide an up-to-date figure for the number of tests sent or the number of tests actually carried out.

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