Wednesday, February 21

Mass testing may cost £100bn



Ambitious mass coronavirus testing plans which could keep hopes of Christmas parties alive would cost as much as £100 billion, according to reports.

Leaked documents seen by the BMJ suggest that the “Operation Moonshot” project, which would see millions of UK-wide tests carried out daily, could have a price tag close to that of the £114 billion budget given to NHS England in 2018. It comes as the plans were also criticised by top doctors.

Boris Johnson believes the scheme could help sport and entertainment venues reopen fully and allow people to socially mix in large groups again with on-the-day tests. The Department of Health said it was investing £500 million in “next generation tests like saliva tests and rapid turnaround tests that can deliver results in just 20 minutes”.

The new testing plans come after a minister appealed to university students not to spread coronavirus in their “bedrooms”. Health minister Lord Bethell urged young people heading to universities across Britain to take “responsibility” in their social life for not fuelling the surging number of cases.