I didn’t get out much over the last few months, so It is good to get back into the swing of routine commitments – visiting enterprises and organisations in and around my parliamentary constituency.
I confess to being surprised and even mildly irritated however, when a request to visit a commercial premises, to discuss a problem the proprietor was encountering, was accompanied by an instruction to have a Covid test prior to my arrival.
On reflection, my irritation was misplaced. My host, after all, was merely following government guidance. Ministers have told us that notwithstanding the success of the vaccination programme, “reclaiming our lost freedoms and getting back to normal hinges on us all getting tested regularly”
Indeed, starting from the 9th April provision was made for each of us to take lateral flow tests twice weekly.
I wonder how many readers of this column have done so, or intend to.
It certainly doesn’t sound much like a return to normal life to me.
Actually, I think it’s plain bonkers.
In England there are 56.3 million of us, with each of us testing twice per week that’s 104 tests annually, 6 billion for all of us put together. The tests come in at £5 each, which amounts to £30 billion per year.
Is this a sensible way to spend such a vast sum of money, (instead we might increase England’s NHS budget by fully 40%)?
And another thing…I’ve already raised my concerns about the accuracy of tests in Parliament.
The lateral flow test gives false positives at a rate of only 0.3% – only 3 in every 10,000 tests. Nevertheless, were we all to obey the guidance to test ourselves twice per week, then 34,000 of us would end up having to isolate ourselves every week to no purpose, then multiply that by the numbers in the household who will then have to do likewise.
Very quickly the appetite for testing will diminish, if indeed it is ever first established, as people fear the consequent inconvenience of a false positive result. After all, the one thing most of us learnt at school is that, if you fear that you may not like the answer…then don’t ask the question
Why on earth are we behaving as if the vaccination programme is not the success that it clearly is?
Could it be that we already ordered and paid for the tests before the vaccination success was evident, and that the Government feel’s obliged not to waste them, and to waste our time instead.