New 90 minute coronavirus tests could be used in schools as No 10 reinforces students will return to school in September, despite concerns of a second wave.
Two new on the spot tests that can identify coronavirus and flu will be rolled out in hospitals, care homes, and laboratories, with the hope the technology will help the NHS cope in the winter months.
Matt Hancock welcomed the development as a big step forward and proposed the tests could be used in schools to halt outbreaks, and No 10 said Boris Johnson had made an absolute commitment to getting schools to resume full time in September after months away from the classroom for numerous students.
But the reopening of schools came amid fears of a second wave of the virus, and Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty warned that the country had probably reached near the boundary or the limits of what can safely be reopened.
And the Prime Minister announced to a press conference that he needed to squeeze the brake pedal on easing restrictions following an uptick in infection rates, and the Health Secretary said the new tests could produce results in 90 minutes, compared to the prevailing regime, which can take up to 24 hours.
He further said that this was a huge step forward in terms of how swiftly they’re going to be able to get tests turned around and also how widespread they can make the tests, and that they’re on track to deliver half a million tests a day by the end of October, and that new technologies, like these two, will serve to expedite that.
And that what that means in real life is that more people are going to be able to get tested more promptly so that they can discover where the virus is and stop it, and keep those rates of infection down.
Matt Hancock said that the technologies which deliver the rapid turnaround tests will mean that they can extend the testing range further and into settings where, for example, in schools, at the moment they have survey testing, so they have some testing but that would be made expandable.
And it’s understood that the tests will go to hospitals and care home first, before being rolled out more extensively at a later date, and the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said that Boris Johnson had on numerous occasions given his full commitment to getting children back into school in September.
Professor Chris Toumazou, CEO and co-founder of DnaNudge and founder of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at the Imperial College London, said that the new tests could be done quite quickly, at the point of need.
And he told BBC Radio 4’s World at One, that it’s bringing the test to maternity wards, so a nurse effectively can take the test on an expectant mother and give the result inside an hour or so, so the mother doesn’t have to wait 48 hours to see her baby after birth or elective surgery.
He said Cancer wards where a cancer patient needs an urgent operation, COVID free, and portable tests could be used and taken into care homes, then they could spread to GP surgeries, dental surgeries, prisons, emergency care and schools.
He further figured that by the end of the year that they should be able to produce approximately a million a month of these cartridges and as they go into the new year, they can extend that and scale that even more quickly.
But I got the sharp impression of us all being deceived yet again – simply pop the specimen into the magical black box, say abracadabra, wait 90 minutes, hey presto! And I have nothing against Matt Hancock myself, but he does need replacing.
He appears to have no credibility left whatsoever, and so much of what he’s said over the last few months has at best been distorted and at worst been absolute hogwash, and we know it’s a fluid situation, but we also know that whatever he says today will be completely different in three or four days time, and whatever he says is not particularly persuasive.