An unreliable PCR test that confused COVID-19 with the common cold and the flu should have been scrapped, according to a British scientist.
Despite receiving a positive test result, many people may not have been infectious, professor Francois Balloux, director of the Genetics Institute at University College London, told The Mail.
Following a positive LFD result and a negative PCR test result, according to UK government guidelines, persons can stop self-isolating. PCR tests are also more accurate than lateral flow devices (LFDs). The decision, according to Professor Alan McNally, a microbiologist at the University of Birmingham who assisted in the creation of the Lighthouse Lab in Milton Keynes, meant that PCR testing procedures were “largely standardised.” With different PCR techniques and equipment being employed, there appears to have been little to no control of these new labs, according to Prof. McNally.
A COVID-19 testing facility in central England had been halted by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) due to worries that infected patients had been receiving falsely negative PCR test results. Following information that some individuals receiving negative PCR test results despite testing positive on rapid lateral flow devices, NHS Test and Trace opened an investigation into a lab in Wolverhampton (LFDs).
In southwest England, specifically, the UKHSA reported that an estimated 43,000 patients may have had falsely negative PCR test results, thus underestimating the number of coronavirus cases between September 8 and October 12.
The private business Immensa Health Clinic, which operates the facility, was established in May 2020 and has received contracts worth 170 million pounds ($234 million) to handle PCR test results. Its chief executive, Andrea Riposati, said the company was “fully collaborating” with UKHSA’s investigation, and did “not wish this matter or anything else to tarnish the amazing work done by the UK in this pandemic.” Riposati also owns Dante Labs, which is under investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) amid claims that it hasn’t consistently delivered findings from PCR tests.
”In Milton Keynes, every test we performed was scrutinised and checked by experts, the quality was poured over every day and we were held to account,” says Prof McNally. ”Clearly in some of the newer labs, that didn’t happen. Cynically, one might say it almost turned into a money-making exercise for the private sector as we had lateral flows by then and everyone knew how do them.” ”Why did we need expensive PCRs? The test results basically became meaningless.” ”I’ve been contacted a couple of times about other examples,’ says Prof McNally. ”There will always be errors in labs, usually they’re caught quickly. Immensa was only the worst one.”