LIVES were lost because it took so long to roll out coronavirus tests, a minister admitted — as the number carried out fell below the government’s target of 100,000 a day and the UK death toll hit 28,446.
The transport secretary Grant Shapps (pictured) told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that Britain had lacked the capacity to carry out mass screening.
‘If we had had 100,000 test capacity before this thing started and the knowledge we now have retrospectively, I’m sure many things could be different,’ he said. His colleague Michael Gove said that ‘deep and probing questions’ would be asked after the pandemic, adding: ‘It will be impossible until the future to know where the greatest mistakes were made.’
At yesterday’s No.10 briefing, Cabinet Office minister Mr Gove revealed tests fell back to 76,496 in the 24 hours to Saturday morning after the 100,000-a-day target had been met for the first time.
NHS England medical director Prof Stephen Powis blamed a ‘little bit of a dip in the weekend’ but said he expected the growth in capacity to be sustained.
More than 122,000 tests were provided in the 24 hours up to Friday morning, but they included 40,000 kits posted to homes, hospitals and NHS sites.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said a ‘brand new industry’ was needed to hit his testing target when he set it at the start of last month.
But the British In Vitro Diagnostics Association, which represents 110 testing firms, said they had been offering their services for weeks before receiving a reply on April 1. Meanwhile, a care homes boss has accused the government of creating a ‘false sense of security’ as the crisis was beginning to unfold.
Deaths in homes are close to matching those in hospitals but only on April 14 were all residents made eligible for tests.
Mike Padgham, of the Independent Care Group, which represents 150 providers, told Metro: ‘Care homes were an afterthought.’ He said, despite ministers saying all residents were eligible, he was advised on Friday that only residents showing symptoms should be tested.
■ A PHARMACEUTICAL company is to more than double production of its Covid-19 tests to 100million per month worldwide, after they were found to be 99.8 per cent accurate at detecting virus antibodies. Roche Diagnostics said it could indicate if a person had gained immunity.