I wrote to the Government urging them to rethink the short-sighted decision to wind down our Covid testing infrastructure. The PPE scramble and struggle to scale up testing capacity during the early phases of the pandemic stand as reminders of how cost-cutting and failures to put emergency systems in place can leave us both more vulnerable and paying way above the odds. But the true cost of such failures is counted in illness and lost lives. We can’t just close our eyes and pretend the pandemic is over.
Immunity is waning, Covid rates are rising and people are struggling to get by. Cutting free testing means someone visiting a relative in care could end up paying around £73 a month just to keep their relative safe from Covid. In practice, it means many people will simply stop testing.
With the ever-present danger of new variants emerging, switching off our defence systems against Covid this early is complacent and short sighted. As the early stages of the pandemic showed all too clearly, failing to have the right systems in place may well end up costing us more than it saves. The Government should keep free PCR and lateral flow tests and keep our current testing infrastructure in place, as the overwhelming majority of public health leaders and scientists have advocated for.