According to documents seen by the British Medical Journal (BMJ), operation Moonshot which will undertake mass coronavirus testing around the UK could cost up to £100bn.
Moonshot will see millions of tests carried out every day will cost almost as much as NHS England’s $114bn budget in 2018/2019.
“In the near future we hope to start using testing to identify people who are negative, who don’t have coronavirus, who are not infectious.
“So, we can allow them to behave in a more normal way in the knowledge they can’t infect anyone else with the virus,” the Prime Minister said at a Downing Street press briefing on Wednesday.
This has been met with mixed reaction from the health and scientific community, which has also raised concerns over negative test results.
Professor Jose Vazquez-Boland, chairman of infectious diseases, University of Edinburgh, said, “The focus of testing currently remains on confirmation of suspected cases (people with symptoms), thus missing the point that most community transmission comes from those who are asymptomatic.
“Only a mass screening programme, such as this alternative plan announced by the Prime Minister, which involves the regular testing of all the population for asymptomatic transmitters, can keep Covid-19 under control and eventually lead to its eradication.”
Dr David Strain, clinical senior lecturer at the University of Exeter and chairman of the BMA’s medical academic staff committee added, “The mass-testing strategy is fundamentally flawed, in that it is being based on technology that does not, as yet, exist.
“The Prime Minister’s suggestion that this will be as simple as “getting a pregnancy test” that will give results within 15 minutes is unlikely, if not impossible, in the timescale he was suggesting to get the country back on track.
“The worry is that comments such as these may undermine the credibility of some of the other very responsible measures that were announced, notably the halting of the larger social gatherings, delaying the reopening of large venues and moving the ‘rule of six’ from guidance to law.”