By Luke Andrews for MAILONLINE
After a mass screening program was halted and then scaled back, doubts were again raised about the government's £ 100 billion test plan, Operation Moonshot.
The ministers had set themselves the goal of regularly testing all 254,000 residents in Salford, Greater Manchester, so that they can lead a “normal” life again without the need for social distancing.
You should be offered rapid saliva tests that give results in 20 to 90 minutes in hopes of finding an effective way to meet the goal of getting 10 million tests a day by the end of the year.
However, six weeks after launch, the process has been reduced to those who are most at risk and who live on “high density housing” in “some areas”.
The U-turn is concerned about the accuracy of the swab-free Optigene LAMP tests used and is putting more pressure on ministers to meet their whopping goal of 10 million swabs a day by December.
A testing center at AJ Bell Stadium in Salford, Greater Manchester, on April 21st. The area's Operation Moonshot testing scheme has been scaled back by the Department of Health
The current goal is 500,000 swabs per day by the end of October. However, industry leaders have already warned that they are "a few weeks behind" the deadline due to problems in the supply chain.
219,000 swabs were processed yesterday, but government data shows that at least half of all test subjects wait at least 48 hours for their results.
The Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE) has warned that Test and Trace has only a "marginal" impact on the spread of the virus as the system does not test and track enough coronavirus infected patients and ask many people to self-infect isolate fails.
When Operation Moonshot's £ 500 million arm was launched in Greater Manchester, the Department of Health promised 250 tests a day, which would then be "scaled up".
The government department said this would result in Covid-19 transmission chains "breaking" almost immediately by "delivering results on the ground".
This was only the first step in implementing the program and in achieving the ultimate goal of Operation Moonshot.
The waiting times for test results will vary depending on where the swabs are taken from. However, currently 98 percent of people in England have to wait more than 24 hours before finding out if they have Covid-19
The waiting times for test results obtained in nursing homes or via home test kits sent by post have continued to deteriorate since the summer. Now only about two in 100 people get their result within 24 hours
However, according to The Guardian, the program struggled to get even 250 participants in Salford to start.
Salford Mayor Paul Dennett told the newspaper the council had been asked to halt the program this week due to a lack of clarity about the accuracy of the saliva tests.
"Today we received new correspondence from the DHSC after following a multi-week written update that" paused "the community testing project, with an emphasis on more targeted testing for people and communities at high risk, as opposed to the whole post a few weeks of concept testing will bring mass community testing to town, ”he said.
"We are reviewing the new correspondence … and will come to a close soon, especially given the urgent need to update our residents in the city."
A health ministry spokesman denied the project had been halted and scaled back when contacted by MailOnline.
However, when announcing the start of the study, the panel stated, "The pilot will start with a select number of participants and up to 250 tests per day to be scaled to the full area."
Sampling takes place at a coronavirus testing facility in Temple Green Park and Ride, Leeds,
A spokesman said the pilot is only focusing on testing in high-risk environments and groups, while continuing to offer testing to residents in some high-density housing areas.
They added, "The Optigene LAMP test used in the Salford pilot without a swab is ongoing and has already been shown to be effective."
The no-swab method, which uses two enzymes to convert the virus' protein strands into DNA, has been touted as a "game changer" for its speed.
However, scientists have warned that it is less accurate than other methods and that it can only run a few dozen samples at a time.
A study conducted at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm found that the virus could be detected in almost 90 percent of the 248 people examined.
The study's lead author, Vincent Pelechano, told Nature that the test would work for some samples, e.g. B. for those contaminated with blood, could be less accurate.
According to the latest data from Public Health England, Salford has a coronavirus infection rate of 301 cases per 100,000 people for the past week as the outbreak doubled in the week leading up to October 4th.
Greater Manchester, along with Liverpool, will go into the third stage of lockdown, which will shut down pubs, gyms and other leisure centers to help stem the rising tide of infections.
It is because the British test and trace system is overwhelmed by the increasing number of cases. Scientists say the £ 12 billion system will "keep falling" unless it is expanded significantly to keep up with the surge in cases.
Boris Johnson has promised the program will be "the best in the world" while experts and politicians see it as an important way to reduce the severity of the restrictions imposed.
However, doubts about the system were voiced in SAGE documents released hours after Boris announced the traffic light ban.
SAGE scientists wrote, "The relatively low level of commitment to the system … coupled with test delays and likely poor adherence rates in self-isolation suggest that this system currently has little impact on transmission," they wrote.
"Unless the system grows at the rate of the epidemic and people are supported so they can stick to self-isolation, the effects of Test, Trace and Isolate are likely to continue to decrease in the future."
Criticism voiced in a September 21 review summary has put pressure on Baroness Harding, the Conservative Peer in charge of Test and Trace.
Jonathan Ashworth, Secretary of Health for Shadow, said: “This is further evidence that government incompetence is hindering our response to a second wave.
'Sage has essentially confirmed that Test and Trace are not working adequately as we've been warning for months.
"Ministers need to get the tests under control so we can take control of the virus."
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