Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Science & Tech
  2. Coronavirus
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.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy
THANK YOU

Content from our partners
The UK simply cannot afford to wait on climate change
To decarbonise home heating, we need to put customers first
Our common endeavour