It has been one of the most enduring Covid conspiracy theories: that the ‘gold standard’ PCR tests used to diagnose the virus were picking up people who weren’t actually infected.
Some even suggested the swabs, which have been carried out more than 200 million times in the UK alone, may mistake common colds and flu for corona.
If either, or both, were true, it would mean many of these cases should never have been counted in the daily tally – that the ominous and all-too-familiar figure, which was used to inform decisions on lockdowns and other pandemic measures, was an over-count.
And many of those who were ‘pinged’ and forced to isolate as a contact of someone who tested positive – causing a huge strain on the economy – did so unnecessarily.
Such statements, it must be said, have been roundly dismissed by top experts. And those scientists willing to give credence such concerns have been shouted down on social media, accused of being ‘Covid-deniers’, and even sidelined by colleagues.
But could they have been right all along?
In the two years since, ministers have been racing to rectify this. The spread of Covid spurred the Government to funnel more than £200m of taxpayer cash into a new Vaccine Manufacturing & Innovation Centre (VMIC), with hopes of bringing forward the opening date to summer 2021 and delivering millions of doses to get the population jabbed.
Although the money went in, jabs have yet to come out. More than six months after it was slated to open, VMIC’s doors are still closed. Its role in beating Covid has been non-existent.
Now, the mega-vaccine plant is up for sale – a step insiders say was unavoidable. “Without a buyer, VMIC would fail or it wouldn’t open,” one Westminster source says.
The NHS has wasted around £13million after hundreds of beds meant for the Nightingale hospitals are unable to be used for patients in other wards. The temporary Nightingale hospitals were built across the country to tackle waves of Covid-19, including at a site in London.
The huge loss was documented last week in NHS England’s annual accounts, with the health service claiming that the beds can’t given to other departments as they don’t meet the required standard. Some of the millions of pounds written off include paying for storing the beds.
Up to 3.5million Covid vaccine doses are set to be binned after reaching their expiry date, it was revealed today.
A leaked memo last month revealed that tens of millions of jabs sent to hospitals, GP surgeries and pharmacies in the run up to Christmas to fight Omicron had largely went unused.
Now NHS sources say more than half of the doses sent to some clinics are still ‘sitting in fridges’ amid falling demand for the booster shots.
One well-placed official estimated up to 3.5m doses are likely to be binned, based on stock counts in several English regions, the Health Service Journal reports.
No10’s Test and Trace system has had barely any impact on thwarting the spread of Covid, according to official estimates.
The controversial £37billion scheme has been heavily criticised over the past year for being ineffective at breaking the chains of transmission.
New Government modelling found the programme – which critics have described as being the biggest ever waste of taxpayer money – may have only slashed cases by as little as six per cent.
Almost half of all NHS staff are managers, administrators or unqualified assistants, it has emerged, as Boris Johnson came under pressure to insist on health service reforms as the price of increased funding.
The proportion of clinical staff who are professionally trained has declined from 55.5 per cent in 2013 to just 52.5 per cent now, meaning 47.5 per cent of staff have no medical qualifications.
- Only three of England’s seven Nightingale hospitals have ever been used to treat Covid patients.
- Cost to the taxpayer is more than £500m to set-up and keep on standby.
- Four of the Nightingales have never treated people with Covid-19.
- Only two of the hospitals have been used to treat Covid patients in during the second wave.
- Nightingales totalled up to £1.27m per inpatient as of January 2021.
- Only 272 inpatients were treated at the Nightingales up until January 2021.
- Nightingale Birmingham, which was the most expensive to set-up at a contracted budget of £109million – has never been used at all.
- Each Nightingale building cost between £409,000 and £1.2m a month to keep on standby.
- The bill to set up the hospitals was £346m, according to contracts awarded by the government to NHS trusts.
- NHS England has forecast total costs will run to £532m for the financial years 2019-21.
- At least £850,000 was also spent with consultancy firms on the construction of the Nightingales.