Coronavirus testing is 'dying on its a***' with chaotic labs failing to keep up with demand, claims top scientist

CORONAVIRUS testing is "dying on its a***" with labs failing to keep up with demand, a top scientist has claimed.

Phil Robinson, a genomics expert and inventor who visited the labs, slammed the chaotic systems – as Brits struggle to get hold of tests at centres.

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He told the Times: "“Testing is dying on its a*** because schools are going back and here we are again.

"They haven’t used that period of lockdown to implement automation.”

The labs are overwhelmed with thousands of packages each day with staff working in a buddy system to check each stage of workings.

Dr Robinson said: "Even with two people, with the best in the business, they make mistakes.

“Every part of the process was poor. The other ludicrous issue they have is they have 20 different types of tube coming into the lab.

"When you are running a high throughput lab it’s only sensible to have one. Why they haven’t standardised that I have no idea.”

The scientist – who has proposed his own invented method for mass testing to the NHS – claimed Lighthouse Labs, which get samples from members of the public and process most of Britain's tests, are struggling to cope.

These labs often fail to keep in touch with NHS labs, which carry out patient tests in hospitals, and often asked them to help with extra work.


A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “Many of these claims are false and inaccurate — our capacity is the highest it has ever been and our laboratories are processing more than a million tests a week.

“There has been a spike in demand in recent weeks and we’re doing everything possible to overcome this challenge – including by bringing in new labs that can process tens of thousands of tests a day, opening new test sites, and trialling new rapid tests that will give results on the spot.”

Scientists advising the Government want a two-week national lockdown next month to battle the surge in coronavirus, it is reported.

Downing Street is keen to "circuit break" the surge in cases, The Financial Times reports.

Testing tsar Dido Harding has "absolutely refuted" accusations the system is failing and blamed "scared" people getting swabs when they don't have symptoms of the virus.

It comes as…

  • Hundreds of drinkers hit the Toon for a last boozy night out before a North East lockdown
  • Lancashire and Merseyside face lockdowns with a 10pm pub and restaurant curfew
  • Scores of coronavirus hotspots across the country have emerged in recent weeks
  • Coronavirus cases rose by 3,395 with 21 deaths recorded yesterday
  • A new 90-minute coronavirus test is 94 per cent accurate, experts have revealed

Experts have now suggested an October lockdown during half term before the virus "breaks the NHS".

It comes after the Government played down reports that Chief Medical Officer Chris Whittyis pushing for a fresh fortnight lockdown with fears cases are are high as 38,000 a day.

Up to 10 million Brits have already been plunged into fresh local lockdowns in regions throughout the UK.

Boris Johnson's Government is now desperate to stop the UK plunging into another full-scale shutdown as Covid-19 cases soar.

Shocking figures released last week by Imperial College London and Ipsos Mori show the number of cases of the deadly virus is doubling every seven to eight days in England.

And the R rate – which shows the number of people, on average, that one infected person will pass the virus on to – has ballooned to 1.7.

Warning a second national lockdown would be "disastrous", the PM said on Wednesday: “I don’t want a second national lockdown.

"I think it would be completely wrong for this country and we are going to do everything in our power to prevent it."

Many of these claims are false and inaccurate — our capacity is the highest it has ever been and our laboratories are processing more than a million tests a week.

Downing Street wants to avoid closing schools again after only reopening them fully in the last few weeks following March's lockdown.

One SAGE scientist told the FT: "As schools will be closed for one week at half-term, adding an extra week to that will have limited impact on education".

The confirmed the body had looked at an October lockdown and said if the current R number continues it would “break the NHS”.

And they admitted Britain's test-and-trace system was “creaking at the seams”

Another expert, a member of the government's Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M), confirmed they too had considered the option of a two-week shutdown next month.

UK coronavirus cases rose yesterday by 3,395 with 21 more deaths – as test shortages strike across the country.

Today the North East became the latest area to be slapped with tougher new rules, with households banned from mixing, 10pm curfews imposed and restaurants and cafes limited to offering table service only.

Drinkers let their hair down as they hit the town last night in a last hurrah before the

Merseyside and Lancashire – apart from Blackpool – are also expected to be hit with a North East-style lockdown, it has emerged.

Brits have struggled to book appointments to get tested due to a backlog of about 240,000 swabs.

Scores of coronavirus hotspots have emerged in large swathes of the country in recent weeks as cases rise and infection rates go up.

As a result, several regions – including Greater Manchester, Birmingham and Leicester – have been plunged into lockdown or given restrictions that limit households mixing and curfews.

London has also seen a rise of case rates in at least 30 boroughs.

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