May 29, 2020
Coronavirus has changed everything. Make sense of it all with the Waugh Zone, our evening politics briefing. Sign up now.
Exclusive: Matt Hancock Faces Second Warning Over Coronavirus Test Figures
Britain’s statistics watchdog is expected to warn Matt Hancock that it still has concerns about government figures for daily Covid-19 tests, HuffPost UK can reveal.
Hancock is in a race against time to hit Boris Johnson’s target of 200,000 daily tests by Monday, as part of the wider goal to get a “world beating” test-and-trace system in place by June 1 to ease the country’s path out of lockdown.
But with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) not expected to publish statistics on capacity until Sunday, just hours before the deadline, critics fear the target could be achieved by new moves to “artificially” inflate the figures.
Sir David Norgrove, the chair of the UK Statistics Authority, told Hancock on May 11 that he had concerns about the “trustworthiness” of the way the government was presenting and counting its numbers of tests for the virus.
In a little-noticed move, Hancock replied to the watchdog this week to define the 200,000 figure as “capacity” rather than actual number of tests conducted.
Hancock said that he was publishing “a clear definition of how our target of capacity to perform 200,000 tests a day by the end of May will be measured and reported”.
But it is understood that Sir David believes the minister has not fully addressed his concerns, not least on safeguards to avoid double-counting and the need to provide more detail on the nature and types of testing.
He and his colleagues at the watchdog are considering sending a new letter outlining their views next week.
It is rare for the UK Statistics Authority to write directly to cabinet ministers and the original letter was described as a “diplomatically-worded but strong public rebuke”.
Sir David, a former Treasury economist and private secretary to Margaret Thatcher, is widely respected across Whitehall.
Some experts have heavily criticised the government for relying on the number of swab tests posted out to the public – without them even being returned to a lab – to help the government reach Hancock’s earlier target of 100,000 tests a day by the end of April.
There are also complaints that expecting the public to correctly swab themselves at home, rather than have a trained professional carry it out, is unrealistic given the invasive procedure currently needed.
Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, who has just joined the board of the UK Statistics Authority, has been scathing about the way the government has handled its Covid-19 figures.
Sir David, who attends Sage group of scientists advising ministers, told the Andrew Marr programme earlier this month that the daily No.10 briefings are “not trustworthy communication of statistics”.
Data given during the briefings was “completely embarrassing” and amounted to “number theatre”, he said. The decision to include the number of tests posted to people, but not yet completed, rendered the figures “inaccurate”.
Some academics suspect that Hancock will use the new antibody tests, which were rolled out this week for the first time, to help meet the 200,000 target set by the prime minister in the Commons. 
“That would look like artificially inflating the figures. These aren’t tests of people who have it now, but of people who have had it before,” one analyst said.
But ever since he unveiled his five “pillars” of testing in early April, Hancock has always insisted that antibody tests – if they could be made viable in time – would be part of the wider target.
He announced last week that 10m antibody tests, which reveal whether someone has previous had the virus rather than if they currently have it, had been bought from pharma giant Roche and would be sent to key NHS staff.
The antibodies are “Pillar 3” of the testing strategy’s five elements, set out by the health secretary in early April. 
On Friday, some London hospitals told staff every employee could now be offered the antibody test over the weekend.
One NHS trust emailed staff to reveal that “we are pleased to confirm that our capacity for testing has been significantly increased” and each of them could book a slot over Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
As of Thursday, the most recent day for figures on different “pillars”, there were no figures for antibody tests. But by Sunday, the total could have increased dramatically.
For more than a week, the DHSC has also described as “unavailable” the actual number of people tested by some labs, rather than the number of tests completed. As of 9am 28 May, there have been 3,918,079 tests, with 119,587 tests on 27 May. 269,127 people have tested positive.As of 5pm on 27 May, of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 37,837 have sadly died. pic.twitter.com/zj0HjOtMDG— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) May 28, 2020Dave Buck, a senior fellow in public health at the King’s Fund, said Hancock’s letter “did not directly address” the concern about posted swabs being included in the overall target.
“More broadly, there is a change to the ‘ambition’ to say it is about the capacity to conduct 200,000 tests a day. It’s a subtle change in language but clearly there to be seen.”
Dr Kit Yates, senior lecturer in mathematical sciences at Bath University, said: “The data is certainly more accessible but still lacks much of the transparency Sir David and the UK Statistics Authority were hoping for.
“In particular, figures on the actual number of people tested daily are listed as ‘unavailable’ and a breakdown of testing figures by region or other potentially useful categorisation is still notably lacking.”
The DHSC has been approached for comment. Some 131,458 tests were carried out or dispatched in the 24 hours up to 9am on Friday, with 2,095 positive results.
Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth told HuffPost UK: “Given the Cummings fiasco, public trust is draining away from ministers.
“That’s why the UK Statistics Authority is right to castigate Matt Hancock. We need clarity over how many PCR tests have been carried out on people on a daily basis, how quickly they were turned around and a breakdown of how the 200,000 promise will be delivered.
“Testing and tracing is now crucial but will only succeed if people have confidence in it. Transparency is key to building that confidence.”Related... Robert Jenrick Faces Calls To Resign After 'Unlawfully' Approving Tory Donor's £1bn Housing Project At Least 177 More Coronavirus Deaths Recorded Across UK In 24 Hours You Can Meet In The Garden, But What Happens When You Need The Loo?
Related Stories
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
'Penny Dreadful' Production Designer on Taking Down 'Deadwood' to Create 1930s Downtown Los Angeles
July 13, 2020
P30WGdETZmY
'Honey Boy' Director Al'ma Harel Explains How 'Bombay Beach' Introduced Her to Shia LaBeouf
July 11, 2020
TW9HOfgdnxo
How To Craft A Skeksi From The 'Dark Crystal' Creature Creators
July 11, 2020
Ixto3tj6eVE
Kylie's Dress Heals, Face Yoga & World's Cheapest Electric Car
July 14, 2020
nfDdPO0a5QQ
Will Curses Out 50?, Kulture's B-Day & Germiest Place on Earth
July 13, 2020
o7r-7kkoW2Y
Kanye West Honors Late Mother With New Song "Donda"
July 13, 2020
T0IVNs_zSQs
Kylie Jenner & Meg Thee Stallion Late Night Swim Sesh | TMZ
July 14, 2020
ZUiTla7dzDM
Activist Bakari Sellers Says Black Doctors Saved Wife After Childbirth | TMZ
July 13, 2020
Ok0CS4BkHoo
TikTok Hype House's Thomas Petrou Will Migrate if App Shuts Down | TMZ
July 12, 2020
uiOmUNQuuLE
'Selling Sunset’ star Christine Quinn’s mother hospitalized following heart attack | Page Six News
July 14, 2020
k5KP8e599S0
This is the poop that flushed Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s marriage away | Page Six Celebrity News
July 14, 2020
gJSVeY-GXW0
‘90 Day Fiancé’ cast updates: Colt, Larissa and more! | Page Six Celebrity News
July 13, 2020
ipvDqxkedm0
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
13
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester United - Southampton
13
Jul
SPAIN: La Liga
Granada CF - Real Madrid
13
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Inter Milan - Torino
13
Jul
SPAIN: La Liga
Alaves - Getafe
13
Jul
SPAIN: La Liga
Villarreal - Real Sociedad
12
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur - Arsenal
12
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Napoli - AC Milan
12
Jul
SPAIN: La Liga
Sevilla - Mallorca
12
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Bournemouth - Leicester City
11
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Sheffield United - Chelsea
11
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Brighton - Manchester City
11
Jul
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Real Betis
11
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Juventus - Atalanta
11
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Liverpool - Burnley
11
Jul
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Valladolid - Barcelona
11
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Brescia - Roma
10
Jul
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Madrid - Alaves
09
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Aston Villa - Manchester United
09
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Verona - Inter Milan
09
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Bournemouth - Tottenham Hotspur
08
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Brighton - Liverpool
08
Jul
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Espanyol
08
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Roma - Parma
08
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Newcastle United
08
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Genoa - Napoli
07
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Juventus
07
Jul
SPAIN: La Liga
Celta Vigo - Atletico Madrid
07
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Leicester City
07
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Crystal Palace - Chelsea
06
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur - Everton
05
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Napoli - Roma
05
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Southampton - Manchester City
05
Jul
SPAIN: La Liga
Villarreal - Barcelona
05
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Liverpool - Aston Villa
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
-g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k tudKp5Vhs3k iwWHibhssSo kQr0XHPbICM
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.