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.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. 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. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. 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.

Content from our partners
How do we secure the hybrid office?
How materials innovation can help achieve net zero and level-up the UK
Fantastic mental well-being strategies and where to find them