Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1083/30652
From The Socialist newspaper, 22 April 2020
National plan for testing needed
photo Creative Commons (Click to enlarge)
Testing everybody in a northern Italian village of 3,000 people saw those with Covid-19 fall 90% within ten days. People testing positive, with or without symptoms, were isolated so they didn't infect others. This shows why testing is vital.
The Tory government's failure to test at the scale needed causes many severe illnesses and deaths.
Health and care workers urgently need weekly testing. Those with mild symptoms, but without Covid, could work. Covid carriers without symptoms isolate, protecting patients and colleagues.
When China's first cases were identified in late December, pandemic contingency plans here should have been opened. They should have rolled into action after Britain's first case was confirmed in late January.
On 19 April, the number of tests performed was still only 5,522 per million people (compared to Germany's 20,786). South Korea has over 600 mobile test centres. The UK has 22, meaning two hour drives for many.
Health secretary Matt Hancock wrings his hands and says: "We have the best scientific labs in the world but we did not have the scale. My German counterpart for instance could call upon 100 testing labs ready and waiting when the crisis struck."
Not until the end of March did the government announce it would recruit laboratories from universities, research institutes and private companies. Why not early February?
The Institute of Biomedical Science, representing 17,000 NHS laboratory workers, says the problem is not insufficient labs but swabs, plastic tubes and chemicals. There is a global shortage. The government's early complacency left them at the back of the queue.
Years of austerity cuts mean NHS labs rely on a few non-domestic suppliers, such as giant corporation Roche. 'Efficient' in normal times, but these are not normal times! Most universities can make the chemicals required.
Julian Peto, a respected epidemiologist, estimates there are enough machines in the UK for ten million daily tests - everybody weekly - obtaining supplies directly from manufacturers rather than clinical test companies.
A national plan is needed, drawn up by NHS, university, biotechnology and other workers through their trade unions, to mobilise all the resources needed for a huge increase in testing. Test, isolate and contact trace to exit lockdown until vaccines are widely available!
Jon Dale, secretary Unite union Nottinghamshire NHS branch (personal capacity)
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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.
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In The Socialist 22 April 2020:
Frontline workers speak out
Where's our PPE? Where's our testing? Where's our money?
London bus drivers' action over safety stops front door boarding
Care homes coronavirus scandal: blood on their hands
PPE shortages: "I feel so bloody angry"
Trade union activists from across the south of England discuss the battle for safety on the frontline
Management tells carers PPE would 'worry' residents
Councils must demand control of supplies and reversal of austerity
More dispatches from the front: 'There are so many more patients dying'
World economic crisis: A Marxist approach to the coronavirus crunch
No 'back to school' until outbreak is under control and trade union agreed safety arrangements
DWP: Action on workers' safety, and protection of pay and conditions needed
JD Sports: Shut up shop and give us full pay!
RMT: Lift the suspension of Steve Hedley
Bromley Libraries 'restructure' in middle of pandemic!
Lenin at 150
Lenin at 150: A revolutionary life - and the relevance of his ideas to today's working-class struggles
National plan for testing needed
Capitalist press attacks Tory incompetence
Tory think tank proposes attack on pensions
Shocking increase in domestic violence killings
US private healthcare system in meltdown
Coronavirus news in brief
The history of struggle to make the workplace safe
Excellent support for Socialist Party special appeal
Why I joined the Socialist Party
Clapping, driving, postering - for workers' rights
The role of the Socialist during the corona crisis
Policies that really protect the NHS
Coronavirus: Students' charter
Socialism the Podcast: What do our listeners think?
Covid-19 patient speaks out: fantastic support from under-resourced health workers
Going viral: Socialist comments and letters
The Socialist 22 April 2020 |
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