UK ‘should have improved rather than abandoned PCR testing system’

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A government scientific adviser has said the government should have tried to reform the testing system for international travel rather than “abandoning it completely”.

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Professor Stephen Reicher, a member of the Scientific Epidemiological Insights Group on Behavior, described the current system around PCR travel tests as “passive”, with “all the different companies charging absurd rates and not providing the service.” have been”.

From Monday 4 October, people who have been double-pocketed will no longer be required to take a pre-departure test when traveling to England under the government’s shake-up rules for international travel.


And later in October, fully vaccinated travelers from the UK as well as several countries including Japan and Singapore will be able to replace their second-day PCR test with a cheap lateral flow test upon arrival in England.

Prof Reischer stressed that PCR tests were essential and were “very, very valuable” in finding asymptomatic cases. Speaking to Sky News on Sunday, he said: “I think we need PCR tests, because everyone always said lateral flow tests were never greenlight tests – tests to say you’re safe and So you can act as if you are not a virus.

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“What they do is that they pick up asymptomatic cases and are very valuable in that regard. But I think it would have been better to have PCR tests but to improve the system and do them through the NHS.

“I think this (discount) is increasing the risk. I think it limits, in fact it inhibits our ability to detect different forms and increases the chances of infected people coming into the country.

“I think it has increased the risk quite clearly, and I think we should have reformed the system rather than largely abandon it.”

His remarks came as experts warned that the government’s elimination of PCR tests would put the UK at greater risk from the new variants.

Professor Lawrence Young, a molecular oncology specialist at the University of Warwick, said the changes would also make it harder to track new forms entering the country.

“We know that fully vaccinated individuals can become infected and spread the virus,” he said. “We also know that previous waves of infections have been returning travelers.

“Lowering our guard runs the risk of bringing a new variant into the country, such as the mu variant first identified in Colombia, that could reduce the effectiveness of current vaccines.”

Professor Devi Sridhar, professor of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, said the easing of the rules was to “omit one of the main ways to identify new variants”.

He said bbc radio scotland: “If we’re not testing for people who come in, they won’t even know they’re positive and need to be isolated, nor will we be able to sequence them to know if there’s a new one.” The edition is coming, which is one of the main things we’re worried about going into winter.”

The new shakeup to the government’s travel rules is intended for when people return from a half-baked break and replaces the original traffic light system with just two lists – a new “red list”, and a “rest of the world” category.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the red list of countries from which returning travelers would need to be quarantined in government-monitored hotels is to be cut.

Mr Shapps said the new “simplified” system aims to strike “the right balance to have managing public health risk as a first priority”.

He added: “We welcome the simplification of the traffic light system, and changes in testing requirements to help UK travelers benefit from our world-leading immunization program and finally give customers and business the confidence to book those trips for what they are waiting for.

“Based on scientific evidence, with less than 1 percent of people returning from low-risk countries testing positive for COVID (less than the UK rate), we urge ministers to keep this policy under review , eliminate all testing for fully vaccinated passengers. As soon as possible in the future, in line with most other European countries.”


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