Experts from the Government suggested that Britain’s mass coronavirus testing program could be discontinued in the new Year. 

Professor Lucy Chappell, chief scientist adviser to the Department of Health, stated to MPs that officials would continue the routine asymptomatic Swabbing Scheme until 2021.  

However, she acknowledged that ministers were considering removing lateral flow testing from their widespread use “beyond January”. 

Experts agree that it is time to change who is being tested, so the UK can learn to live with the virus. 

No10 launched its ambitious mass testing scheme to great fanfare back in April. But the system — a key part of the £37billion Test and Trace programme — has repeatedly been derided since its inception.

All adults have the right to two free test kits per week. These can be collected at pharmacies or ordered online.

They are meant to be used by people if they don’t show symptoms of Covid.

However, the kits have been criticized for being inaccurate, especially when self administered.

Whitehall sources already confirm that the system will soon lead to taxpayers paying billions of pounds.  

Professor Lucy Chappell, chief scientific adviser to the Department of Health and Social Care, said the Government was committed to mass testing ¿ including of schoolchildren ¿ until at least January but is considering dropping the programme after that

Sir Andrew Pollard, who was part of the team that created the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, said the Government should move quicker and end mass testing in schools earlier this winter

Professor Lucy Chappell (left), chief scientific adviser to the Department of Health and Social Care, said the Government was committed to mass testing — including of schoolchildren — until at least January but is considering dropping the programme after that. But Sir Andrew Pollard (right), who was part of the team that created the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, said the Government should move quicker and end mass testing in schools earlier this winter

ENGLAND TESTING – England’s lateral flow testing soared in March after No10 introduced a program to swab every schoolchild 

A Government adviser has admitted that the UK didn’t put enough emphasis on the airborne transmission of Covid in the UK at the start of pandemic. 

A Government adviser today acknowledged that Britain didn’t put enough emphasis on airborne Covid transmission in the early days of the pandemic.

Professor Andrew Curran, chief scientific adviser for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) — which issues the Government’s official workplace guidance, told MPs Covid advice may have overemphasised surface cleanliness, instead of the need for proper ventilation.

He stated that the Science and Technology Committee has changed its recommendations as experts learn more about this virus.

Top scientists first feared that the coronavirus would spread primarily via surfaces such as desks, post boxes, and door handles at the beginning of the crisis last January.

It led to Government-issued guidance for businesses that instructed them to spend thousands of Pounds on cleaning products to wipe down computers and door handles so employees can return to the workplace.

However, research has shown that touching contaminated surfaces does not increase the risk of the virus spreading to other people. 

Professor Curran said today that Britain should have been more focused on preventing airborne transmission at work. 

He stated that thousands upon thousands of offices have not been following the HSE’s guidelines on cleaning and hygiene.

Professor Chappell answered a question about whether the nation should stop testing asymptomatic patients at the Commons Science and Technology Committee.

“And I know that other organizations are evaluating at which point we reconsider testing asymptomatic people beyond January, beyond spring.

She said that she hoped that in five to ten years, we wouldn’t all be doing lateral flow testing. There is clearly a point in between those five years.

“Between January and now, it’s evident that we have committed ourselves to testing. We are now considering where we want to go beyond January, beyond the spring.  

Sir Andrew Pollard was part of the team who created the AstraZeneca vaccination. He said that the Government should stop mass testing in schools for asymptomatic diseases before January. 

As part of a measure to reduce the spread of the disease in schools, secondary school students and college students in England are required to take two weekly lateral flow tests.  

If they test positive they have to stay at home until a PCR test confirms they do not actually have the virus at least two days later — even if they are asymptomatic.

Sir Andrew addressed MPs during the briefing. He stated that it was vital that children remain in school.

He said that the psychological effects of being forced to stay at home, which had the greatest impact on children, was the most significant. 

Professor Pollard argued only symptomatic pupils — who would already be required to stay home because of their illness — should have to take a test. 

He told MPs that ‘Clearly, the large amount testing in schools is very disruptive to the system. Whether that is the individual child being tested positive but otherwise completely healthy, or because of the concerns that this raises more broadly within the school. 

“We are aware that families may take their children out of school because someone has tested positive.

“So, I believe there is a huge effect of widespread testing in schools.

“I think that we should probably move in the pandemic over this winter and maybe towards the winter to a totally different system of clinically driven testing.

“In other words, it is better to test people who are sick than to have regular testing for people who are well.

Sir Andrew said: “That drives a lot of these activities that happen, especially in schools, when you have lots of symptoms testing.” 

He stated that it was a ‘certain future’ and not to be testing at this rate of Covid forever’. He also said, “We need to consider how that transition works.”

“There is clearly a lot more transmission right now and that adds additional pressures to the NHS because there are some individuals coming into hospital and more than ever before. But, I think we’re in improving condition.

Data from Test and Trace shows the proportion of children being told they are positive for Covid when they don't have the virus by lateral flow devices has doubled in the last month (red line). More than one in ten positive results from lateral flows are incorrect

Test and Trace data shows that the percentage of children who are told they have Covid by lateral flow devices is now doubled (red line). More than one in ten positive lateral flow results are incorrect

The mass testing scheme — a watered down version of No10’s ambitious ‘Operation Moonshot’ 10million-tests-a-day project — was launched on April 9.

Matt Hancock, former Health Secretary said that it would be a ‘one our most effective weapons in the fight against this virus’.

The tests were used previously in schools, hospitals, and care home settings.

Ministers spent £2.8billion on hundreds of millions of the kits, which give a result in as little as 30 minutes. They have been shown not to catch infections in as many as 40% of cases.

Numerous studies have shown the kits are far less accurate when self-administered – which is how they’re used across the UK.

Leaked emails from Department of Health in April showed that top officials feared they only caught 10% of infections this way.


Studies have shown that coronavirus diagnosis is only accurate when performed by trained professionals. 

The tests are quick and easy. They require swabs of the throat or nose. The samples are then mixed with a testing fluid and placed in a plastic cassette. This can detect coronavirus and produce an image of a line. This is similar to a pregnancy test.

The NHS and the Department of Health have instructed people to perform the tests themselves, despite some kits’ manufacturers advising against it.

Both the swabbing and use of the test cassette could be wrong and affect the accuracy. 

The virus fragments may not be picked up if the swab was not done properly or for a long time. Nasopharyngeal Swabs can also be used by medical professionals. These go to the back of your nostrils, but it is not recommended for anyone who tests themselves.

The result could be incorrect if the sample has not been properly inserted into cassette. 


An evaluation by the University of Oxford, Public Health England, and the Innova lateralflow test was done to determine its sensitivity. This is the ratio of positive cases detected by the test. The test is being widely used in the UK. 

Based on this evaluation, officials decided to go ahead with the self-testing trial in real life.


The Innova test was also tested on Liverpool citizens. Participants took their own swabs and were assisted by military personnel to conduct the tests. The results showed that only 41% of positive cases were detected.

The rapid tests showed 891 positive results compared to the 2,829 positive lab-basedPCR swabs. This means that 1,938 people received a negative rapid test result.

The study did not compare this to professionally conducted rapid tests. However, Innova claims that its test is 95% sensitive under laboratory conditions. 


Despite rapid lateral flow testing getting negative press, officials in Slovakia used them to test 5.2 million people – almost all of the 5.5m population – in a trial that was later found to have reduced the country’s infectivity rate by 60%.

The accuracy of the tests was between 70 and 90%. All swabs and evaluations were done by qualified medical workers. They used deep nasopharyngeal swipes that reach the back of your nose, while self-testing relies on a simple swab of the nostril.

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine researchers said that the scheme successfully weeded out coronavirus cases that wouldn’t have been found otherwise, slashing the number of cases by over half in a week during a lockdown. 


Alternatively to the gold standard PCR, lateral flow tests can be used. They are more costly and labour-intensive, but they are more accurate.

The PCR test also uses a swab, but this is then processed with high-tech laboratory equipment in order to analyse the genetic sequence of each sample to see if it matches the coronavirus genes.

This is a longer and more expensive process that involves multiple types and trained staff. It can take hours for the analysis to be completed. The whole process from the initial swab to receiving the result can take days.

However, it is much more accurate. The tests are nearly 100 percent accurate in detecting the virus in ideal conditions, but it may be closer to 70 percent in the real world.