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Testing, testing, 1, 2, 100,000

Remember all that brouhaha around testing five days ago? It has been overshadowed by Professor Neil Ferguson breaking lockdown now. But, a long time ago (in terms of the Covid news cycle), it was a big deal that the Government sort of made its target of increasing capacity to 100,000 tests a day – though the report by HSJ that it changed its methodology and the subsequent drop in capacity since then has undermined this achievement.

This was all a distraction (which led to the BBC political editor saying they will be ‘watching the numbers carefully’ like it was an election or a cricket match).

Are bald numbers of tests really what we should have been striving for?

But I am still at a loss as to what the end goal is. I had thought that it would help healthcare workers get back to work. But NHS England confirmed that GPs shouldn’t go back to work if they or members of their households are symptomatic, even if the tests are negative. Which sounds pretty good advice to me.

So what is the point? Right now, numbers are too high for the test, trace isolate to be useful. Hopefully, we get numbers low enough for this strategy to work in the near future.

But if we were preparing for this, are bald numbers of tests really what we should have been striving for? Shouldn’t we have been focusing on accuracy, convenience and making sure that the processes were ready for when it will be useful?

Instead, we had this ridiculous race to the target that took focus away from a coherent strategy. Then again, the Government is becoming expert at distraction techniques as this pandemic continues.

Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at