Mass COVID testing at UK universities is haphazard and unscientific, finds BMJ investigation

Mass COVID testing at UK universities is haphazard and unscientific, finds BMJ investigation

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The expensive rollout of asymptomatic screening for COVID-19 at UK universities has discovered only a few constructive instances following its launch in December as a part of the Authorities’s bold £100bn Moonshot programme, finds an investigation printed by The BMJ at the moment.

It reveals that nearly two thirds of upper training establishments should not gathering knowledge on the variety of college students being examined and a 3rd should not logging what number of check constructive. Specialists have described campus testing as haphazard and messy with a price ticket that’s “outrageous.”

On 17 Feb 2021 The BMJ despatched Freedom of Data requests to the 216 universities and schools eligible to obtain public funding for twice weekly lateral stream testing for college kids, asking how a lot they acquired, what number of checks that they had carried out, and what number of constructive checks got here again.

Amongst 69 establishments that disclosed three months price of knowledge, 1,649 constructive outcomes have been reported from 335,383 checks carried out, a 0.5% constructive price.

The BMJ additionally discovered widespread reluctance amongst universities and schools to share details about prices and the consequences of testing on containing the virus.

Solely 16 establishments disclosed full knowledge on their funding, the variety of checks carried out, and the variety of constructive outcomes. These confirmed that the federal government spent roughly £3,000 per constructive check end result yielded.

However consultants stated that is more likely to be an enormous underestimation of the complete price, as components equivalent to staffing of testing websites weren’t included.

Allyson Pollock, professor of public well being at Newcastle College, and a vocal critic of the testing programme, stated, “The clear message from the information is that the mass testing is haphazard, fragmented, disjointed and completely the antithesis of public well being.”

And he or she urged universities to desert asymptomatic testing and as a substitute concentrate on testing these with signs, significantly as college students return to campuses and prevalence of COVID is falling to low ranges.

Jon Deeks, professor of biostatistics on the College of Birmingham and chief of the Cochrane Collaboration’s COVID-19 check analysis actions, factors to knowledge from England’s Check and Hint service which recommend that the price of asymptomatic testing in faculties could possibly be as a lot as £120,000 per case discovered, and stated it was essential that the Division of Well being and Social Care printed an evaluation of knowledge that it was gathering from universities in England.

Angela Raffle, guide in Public Well being and honorary senior lecturer at Bristol College, who has labored for the UK Nationwide Screening Programmes since their inception in 1996, described the rollout of asymptomatic testing as “a misplaced alternative.”

She stated the entire thing is “a determined train in making an attempt to get beneficial publicity for quantity 10, making an attempt to eliminate the Innova check mountain, and making an attempt to vary the tradition on this nation in order that we begin to assume that common checks for everyone is a worthwhile use of public assets, which it is not.”

The federal government instructed The BMJ that it was as much as universities to find out their testing strategy, however stated it was dedicated to working with them to supply twice weekly asymptomatic testing to all college students on campus.

A authorities spokesperson stated, “Defending communities and saving lives is at all times our first precedence and each pound spent is contributing in the direction of our efforts to maintain folks protected. Testing at universities is a key pillar in decreasing transmission dangers, and permitting extra college students to return to face-to-face examine as safely as doable.”

A spokesperson for Universities UK stated, “Lateral stream gadget testing isn’t good, no check is. However they’re straightforward to make use of and provides speedy outcomes, which may allow universities to shortly determine extremely infectious asymptomatic people who may in any other case unknowingly be spreading the virus, and assist them to comply with the proper plan of action.”

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Extra info:
Covid-19: mass testing at UK universities is haphazard and unscientific, finds BMJ investigation Journal, BMJ (2021). DOI: 10.1136/bmj.n848

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British Medical Journal

Mass COVID testing at UK universities is haphazard and unscientific, finds BMJ investigation (2021, March 31)
retrieved 1 April 2021

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