In a bid to scale up testing capacity the government is to commit an extra £500m and plans to launch community pilot trials aimed at assessing the effectiveness of repeat testing in schools and colleges as well as the general population, in addition to ramping up trials of a new test kit that it is claimed can provide results within 20 minutes.
The most ambitious undertaking revolves around the imminent launch of a community-wide trial in Salford, which will assay the benefits of repeat population testing, focusing on a specific high-footfall location in the city with retail, public services, transport and places of faith and worship.
Jeremy Hunt, who currently chairs the health select committee, said the UK should embrace mass population testing. “I would really want to expand the whole testing programme so we can almost get to a point where we are testing the whole population every week,” he said.
“As an intermediate step I’d want to have expanded it by now so that we’re at least testing all NHS staff and all teachers every week, so people can be absolutely confident when they’re using hospitals, when they’re sending their kids to school, that they are coronavirus-free zones,” he said.