‘Absolutely wrong’: how UK’s coronavirus test strategy unravelled

Posted: April 08th 2020


'Absolutely wrong': how UK's coronavirus test strategy unravelled

It does seem that something as crucial as a clear national strategy has had too many twists and concerns to give us confidence that even now we are on the right track. Testing has to have a higher role in the mix of actions but I fear it wont….This article tells us:

On 11 March, the day before Boris Johnson told the nation that the coronavirus sweeping the UK could no longer be contained and that testing for Covid-19 would stop except for the seriously ill in hospital, the head of No 10’s “nudge unit” gave a brief interview to the BBC.

At the time it was barely noticed – it was budget day, after all. With hindsight, it seems astonishing.

“There’s going to be a point, assuming the epidemic flows and grows as it will do, where you want to cocoon, to protect those at-risk groups so they don’t catch the disease,” said Dr David Halpern. “By the time they come out of their cocooning, herd immunity has been achieved in the rest of the population.”

It was a window into the thinking of the political strategists directing the UK response to Covid-19, who claimed to base what they were doing on scientific evidence. We would let the disease spread among the healthy. So no need to test.

If there was a moment when the UK turned its back on the traditional public health approach to fighting an epidemic, this was it.