Tuesday, July 14, 2020

British Medical Journal: England’s chaotic Covid-19 testing system cost lives in Leicester

A British Medical Journal editorial published last week begins:
With the flare-up of Covid-19 and re-imposition of lockdown, the population of Leicester is suffering the fallout of a chaotic testing system that seems to have forgotten its prime purpose, namely to trigger prompt, targeted measures, informed by local knowledge and up-to-date surveillance. Without swift and decisive action by those at local and national levels who understand communicable disease control, England will see further lockdowns and more avoidable deaths.

Leicester was a city at risk, with high levels of social deprivation and ethnic diversity. We now know that cases spiked in late May and that new cases were being detected throughout June at rates of over 100 per 100 000 population per week. But these data were made available to the local authority only days before lockdown was re-imposed on 30 June1 and were not made public for several days after that.
It ends by calling for national action to reform our current 'chaotic' Covid-19 testing regime:
We need transparent and timely sharing of data, proper investment in local public health infrastructure, no more standalone testing systems, a fully functioning “find, test, trace, isolate, and support” system as set out by Independent SAGE, and a new determination to reduce levels of circulating virus, if we are to avoid the 30 000 additional deaths by next April implied by England’s chief medical officer.

1 comment:

Phil Beesley said...

It is interesting to note that Sir Peter Soulsby doesn't understand the problem either. He's going on about physical geography and postcodes: 'Some streets have no issue at all and in other streets nearby you’ve got a major issue, and we needed to know that at the time so we could intervene with pinpoint accuracy.' (Guardian and elsewhere)

My postcode covers 30 households of different ages, ethnicity, occupations and lifestyles. Conventional epidemiology regards these as significant factors. Industrial illness is understood by investigating where people work, where they shop or have a beer, where they socialise. There may be truth in that some Leicester neighbourhoods are very 'tight' but postcodes just aren't enough data.