Embrace Private Sector To Ramp Up Coronavirus Testing

In a new policy paper, the Adam Smith Institute has slammed Public Health England for its bureaucratic, centralised model of testing, and is urging the Government to rapidly learn from “Germany, South Korea, and more recently, the United States of America”, who have decentralised testing and embraced a mixture of public, non-government and private laboratories.

The ASI reveals that since March 16, the United Kingdom has just over doubled daily testing capacity. In the same time, the United States has increased daily testing by a factor of 21. That’s the date the US decentralised its testing regime and embraced private laboratories…

The research makes the compelling case that Public Health England’s early decision to centralise testing to a single PHE laboratory severely held the UK back. As of today in the UK, testing has been expanded to just twelve labs operated by PHE and a limited number of NHS laboratories. The paper says to catch up with successful testing nations, the UK must immediately:

  • fast-track approval for private sector laboratories to conduct COVID-19 testing;

  • substantially expand usage of NHS and university laboratories to conduct COVID-19 testing;

  • undertake rapid approval of private sector developed tests, including mutual recognition of tests approved by other regulatory bodies such as the FDA;

  • reduce testing red tape, including any requirements that initial positive tests must be retested centrally by PHE; and

  • explicitly call on companies to help make testing kits and develop lab capacity for COVID-19 testing, modelled on the successful call for businesses to make ventilators.

Author of the paper, the ASI’s Head of Research Matthew Lesh tells Guido that

“Public Health England has failed the nation. The early decision to centralise testing — initially to just a single lab and a single test — has had catastrophic consequences for human life…

They’ve repeatedly failed to take up offers from companies, universities and charities to help. Now we can’t even get NHS workers back to the front line. It has to change.”

 Time to stop running away from the private sector. Embracing it will save lives…

mdi-tag-outline Adam Smith Institute Coronavirus FDA Public Health England
mdi-account-multiple-outline Matthew Lesh
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