The Mass Testing Myth

Jackson Carlaw was by no means the only critic jumping on the testing data as an easy target by which to blame the SNP Government, as he preferred to call it.

All of the opposition parties and the MSM would use this data and blame the fact that not enough of our 5.4 million souls had been tested last week, on any death statistics they could get their hands on.

From the outset, I doubted the value of mass testing. I’d read about unreliability, failure with the asymptomatic cases, the need to retest frequently the negative cases and the risks of both complacency in the tested and panic among the untested but had not read anything authorative.

By chance, today, I came across this:

Coronavirus: as a health economist, I’m not convinced the case for mass testing stacks up by Professor Cam Donaldson, Yunus Chair and Pro Vice Chancellor Research, Glasgow Caledonian University: https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-as-a-health-economist-im-not-convinced-the-case-for-mass-testing-stacks-up-135257

It’s worth reading the whole thing but if you can’t or won’t, here are the key reservations Donaldson has about mass testing:

Beyond prioritising NHS and other key workers, we might ask, in pure cost-benefit terms, what is the point of following the World Health Organization’s “test, test, test” mantra? South Korea, which is characterised as a country engaged in mass testing, has conducted only 400,000 tests, or the equivalent of around a third of NHS staff – which puts into perspective what is really achievable.

In any case, South Korea acted much earlier and combined testing with isolating infected people and rigorously tracing whoever they had been in contact with. None of this looks feasible in the UK. Mass testing would also further divert nursing and laboratory resources from other much-needed care activities, so this must also form part of the equation.

Alternative finger-prick tests are being developed to test for viral antibodies – in other words, whether people have been infected. The UK claims to have ordered 3.5 million kits, and there is talk of five times as many by mid-April. They are even being offered for private sale, but what purpose does this serve? They are cheaper and can be self-administered, but they are also much less reliable than RT-PCR tests. This again raises the disastrous prospect of people falsely testing negative, and thinking they are free to wander about in public. 

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11 thoughts on “The Mass Testing Myth

  1. As i understand it is the timing which is critical. Korea acted fast. I am also not sure of those figures quoted. They seem to be old and less than the number in early April.
    From Wikipedia
    ‘By 9 April 2020, South Korea had about 10,423 cases and 204 deaths, with over 494,711 people having been tested’.

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  2. The Test—

    Man, born and lived all his life in America—Loch Ness.

    The BBC this morning, our broadcaster, in a 300 year old Union—Lock Ness.

    Broadcasting to Oak-knee, Puth, Stehling, Abba-dine, Abba-dinesheer, Eh, Eh-shee, Ah-gaal. Dumfreez————— and so on.
    300 years? You would think after 300 years………………………….?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Surprised they didn’t call it lake Ness!
      Not really Scotland’s broadcaster though, the BBC is a BritNat state run propaganda machine, fooling the people for a very long time, posing as quality tv and news. 300 years of denying Scotland’s cultural identity, the BBC just took that and ran with it, ridiculed and made fun of Scotland, all tartan and highland dancing, but Scottish language and Scottish place names? Nope, too distinctive. Though my kids did love BBC Alba kids programmes in Gaelic when they were wee.

      Scotland is banned from having broadcasting powers and we all know why that is. The Britnat government in London control the narrative, always have and hoped to carry on for some time yet. Independence would mean Scotland would no longer be banned from
      independent broadcasting. That among many things is putting the willy’s up the BritNat state.
      Btw does Wales have broadcasting powers?

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  3. Mass testing has been used as a political bludgeon from the outset, it falls into the category of “Surely SG could have saved lives but chose not to”, it does not need data or proof, the assertion is sufficient for the political point to be made.
    There is no magic bullet for this coronavirus, the sad aspect is those seeking political capital from spreading the fact there is.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mass testing. Not a great idea if you do the test too early in the incubation cycle then you get negative results which result in a false sense of ‘I’m alright to go out and about’.

    Not a great idea if the test methods used give a high rate of false negatives.

    Not a good idea when the supply of materials used to collect the samples for testing are subject to supply problems like this
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/aug/24/coronavirus-home-test-kits-run-out-in-england-and-scotland

    Not a good idea when the UK Gov’s computer software is prone to glitches that result in people being told they should go to Belfast to get tested when they live in Glasgow.

    Liked by 2 people

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