It was revealed today that the company at the center of a testing error that allowed thousands of Covid-infected patients roam the streets was still processing private travel PCR samples. 

Up to 43,000 people in the South West of England were incorrectly told they were positive for the virus because of technical issues at a private laboratory in Wolverhampton run by Immensa.

The error is believed to be linked to the recent increase in Covid cases within the region, where one in 45 people is now thought to have the virus. Operations at the facility — where workers were filmed playing football and wrestling on shift — were suspended after the error was finally spotted on October 15. 

But it has now emerged Immensa is continuing to process and profit from PCR results for international travellers who buy tests for up to £68 through its sister company Dante Labs.

Professor Kit Yates is a senior lecturer in mathematical Biology at the University of Bath. He described the situation as “an absolute scandal” and said: “How can anyone trust them?”  

Immensa — which was awarded nearly £170million by the Government to analyse PCR samples last spring — has insisted that all swabs, including for travel, are being redirected from the Wolves lab. The company also has a Cambridge facility.

It was also discovered that one of Immensa’s senior staffers has been hired to work for the UK Health Security Agency. This agency took over from the now-defunct Public Health England at beginning of the month.  

The UKHSA claimed that the worker had ‘no involvement whatsoever at any PCR testing business matters’ and that a Conflict of Interest form was filled out before the appointment.

Up to 43,000 people, mostly in the South West of England, were wrongly told they were negative for the virus this month due to 'technical issues' at a private lab in Wolverhampton, run by Immensa. The error has been linked to the recent explosion in Covid infections in the region, where a record one in 45 residents are now estimated to have the virus (the worst areas are shown in dark purple)

According to Immensa, 43,000 people in the South West of England were incorrectly informed they were negative for the virus due to technical problems at a private lab in Wolverhampton. The error was linked to the recent rise in Covid infection in the region. A record number of people are now infected with the virus in this area (the worst areas are in dark purple).

Immensa Health Clinic, in Wolverhampton, has been suspended following an investigation revealing it may have incorrectly processed PCR tests. The lab (pictured) has been paid £120million by the taxpayer for its services

Following an investigation into whether it had incorrectly processed PCR test results, Immensa Health Clinic, Wolverhampton has been suspended. The lab (pictured) has been paid £120million by the taxpayer for its services

Employees at Immensa Health Clinic in Wolverhampton were filmed fighting with each other (pictured) in January. This was at the height of the first wave and when the country was in strict lockdown

Immensa Health Clinic, Wolverhampton, was filmed in January as employees engaged in fighting (pictured). This was at the height and in the midst of the first wave.

They were also recorded playing football together at the testing centre while on duty

They were also recorded playing together football at the testing center while they were on duty

When asked if Immensa was processing PCR test results for travel, a spokesperson for the company told The Guardian that all PCR testing, including private, had been stopped at the Wolverhampton laboratory. 

“All samples received in Wolverhampton have been rerouted to other laboratories. We have been fully cooperating with the UKHSA in this matter and will continue doing so. 

OWN Assessment by Government warns that vaccine passports for ‘Plan B’ might backfire and cause a FUEL Covid overdose 

Introduced vaccine passports could cause an increase in coronavirus case rates because people will abandon large venues and instead gather in small pubs with poor ventilation, according to the Government’s impact assessment.

Boris Johnson’s coronavirus, ‘Plan B’, would require people to prove that they are double-jabbed in order to be granted access to certain hospitality and entertainment settings.

A document that examined the economic and social effects of the policy suggested it could backfire.

The document was written by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. It expressed concern that people could avoid large venues and instead meet elsewhere to avoid showing documentation.

The Telegraph obtained the impact assessment and warned that to roll out the policy in England, firms would need to hire thousands more stewards to verify vaccine status.

It concluded that it could be difficult to deliver the checks, while the checks themselves could lead to bottlenecks at large venues and stadiums.

The document reportedly warned the policy could cost firms £2billion in lost turnover if it was in place over a six month period.

In Scotland, vaccination passports have been introduced. Hospitality chiefs call their introduction an “unmitigated disaster”.

Officials also confirmed that an employee from Dante and Immensa labs was supporting the NHS Test and Trace [part of the UKHSA]In a technical position’.

But a UKHSA spokesperson told the newspaper: ‘The secondee completed a conflict of interest form when appointed and they were judged suitable for the role.’

Data from the Government’s Covid dashboard shows that the South West has the highest infection rate in England, for the first time in several weeks. Nineteen of the 10 most affected areas in England are located in this region. 

The South West of England is reporting 760 cases per 100,000, compared to the 488 England average. However, some southwestern authorities report far more.

Cheltenham’s rate is 1,344, the highest in the country, followed by Stroud (1,231), Tewkesbury (1,226), Swindon (1,128) and Mendip (1,069).

Bath and North East Somerset (1,061), North Somerset (995), Somerset West and Taunton (955.5) and South Gloucestershire (952) round out the nine hardest-hit places in the region. 

Downing Street denied the test blunder behind the sharp rise in prices and suggested that the South West was simply catching-up with the rest.

Experts think otherwise. Professor Yates stated that it is ‘extremely probable’ that much of the rise in cases is due to people not being vaccinated and the virus spreading unchecked.

Professor Paul Hunter predicted that up to 8,000 people would have contracted the disease if the wrong result was given. These estimates were based on rough estimates regarding the number people who isolate from the disease when they’re sick, regardless of PCR results.  

MailOnline was informed by Dr Raghib Al Ali, an epidemiologist from Cambridge University. The South West is particularly susceptible to a mistake due to the lower levels of natural immunity.   

Patients affected by the Immensa lab error were given the false negatives between September 2 and October 12, allowing the virus to continue spreading unrestricted within the region. 

It is not clear what caused the error in the laboratory’s testing.

UKHSA stated that the problems at the lab were an ‘isolated event’ and that the number of tests processed by it is small in comparison to the wider network. Testing availability is also unaffected throughout the country.