UK Offers Twice-Weekly COVID-19 Tests to Everyone in England

April 5, 2021 Updated: April 5, 2021

Everyone in England will be offered free COVID-19 testing twice a week from April 9, the UK government announced on Monday.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said this is a “significant step forward” that “paves the way for businesses and society reopening” as the ongoing CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus lockdown is gradually eased.

“As we continue to make good progress on our vaccine programme and with our roadmap to cautiously easing restrictions under way, regular rapid testing is even more important to make sure those efforts are not wasted,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said one in three people who have COVID-19 do not show symptoms but could still be infectious, so rapid testing “is going to be fundamental in helping us quickly spot positive cases and squash any outbreaks.”

“Reclaiming our lost freedoms and getting back to normal hinges on us all getting tested regularly,” he said.

But Allyson Pollock, professor of public health at Newcastle University, told The Epoch Times, “It’s a hugely expensive and incoherent policy and not a public health strategy.”

The mass testing will use lateral flow devices, which can produce a result in less than 30 minutes without the need for laboratory testing.

The mass testing programme has been criticised by some medical experts, who are worried that it could backfire due to the limited accuracy of the technology, especially with self-administered tests.

A study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) showed the pilot in Liverpool missed 60 percent of cases and 30 percent of those with the highest viral loads.

The BMJ said in a November 2020 editorial that the programme  was “an unevaluated, under-designed, and costly mess.”

It added that the mass testing programme shouldn’t continue or be used as a basis of whether people should self-isolate until it has been externally and independently scrutinised.

Regarding false positive results, the government said, “Recent analysis from NHS Test and Trace shows that for every 1,000 lateral flow tests carried out, there is less than one false positive result.”

Lily Zhou and Simon Veazey contributed to this report.