The Defence from Covid 19, the Last few Weeks
This is a war. The last few weeks have been our Dunkirk moment. It’s been all about retreat, protect and defend.
The Attack on C 19 Starts Right Now
This week, 2 million tests rapid 10-15 min C19 diagnostic tests arrive from our suppliers in Guangzhou and Hangzhou. This week, we start to go on the offensive against C19. This week we take the battle right to the very heart of this virus. Why? Cleaning your hands and social distancing are vital to slow the spread, but mass population testing will allow us to identify who needs to be in isolation and who can be free to resume their lives, mass testing will isolate C19 and deprive it of its oxygen so it can’t survive and replicate. Whilst we have many weeks to go and possibly months, this is the start of the fight back, we move to have an aggressive stance against this invisible enemy.
Protect the Front Line
We understand that at least 1.5 million of these will go to all the front line workers, our first line of defence, so that a) those already self isolating, as a precautionary measure, can get back into work where they are needed, and b) so the front line at the point of care, where someone is presenting with symptoms, we can test and see if they have C19, isolate and or put the patient on the correct care pathway for their other illness.
Protect the Population
Follow on orders for these tests can be initiated immediately, and we hope they will be available for mass testing soon. This will tell whether you need to remain isolated, or can recommence work. Other countries we know of have already placed large orders, for example, Germany, 4 m, France 3m, Spain 5 m, Turkey 10 m, Chile 2 m and testing kits are on their way, but now behind these orders. Even Uruguay has just ordered 100,000 units, and Hungary has ordered hundreds of thousands.
Get the UK Moving Again
It is not a choice between the health of the nation or the economy. We need to do everything in our power to get the country working again, while doing everything we can to make sure that there is sufficient capacity for sick people to be treated. A mass population testing program may well take a couple of months, but the reality is at each and every step, more and more people can get back to work and more and more businesses can re open and restart the economy. We will restart this economy and prevent it from spinning into an irrevocable death spiral which will engender more deaths and human misery for years to come.
How Does the Test Work?
In a simple pregnancy test, urine moves over a strip of paper which detects the hormone hCG, which signifies you are pregnant. Most adults have seen this, and many women will have used one of these. Our C19 test is an Antibody Test that tests if you have antibodies in your blood. When the blood is added into the test kit, the specimen is absorbed into the device by capillary action as it mixes with the C19 antigen-dye conjugate and flows across the pre-coated membrane.When the C19 antibody level in the blood is sufficient, this produces a coloured test band that indicates a positive result. When the C19 antibody level in the blood is zero or below the target cutoff, the band does not become coloured. This indicates a negative result.
This test can work in conjunction with the much more complex and difficult to administer DNA test. Unlike the DNA test which will tell whether a person has C19 now only, or not, as the case may be, the antibody test is arguably more useful as it tells us if the person has had, either or currently has C19. Therefore, if you have a positive antibody test, you can be quarantined for 14 days, and retested using the DNA test to tell you if it is a current condition. With the antibody test we can only tell if you have Covid 19 if it is a current condition only if you present with symptoms and are 5-7 days at the earliest from the original infection, so there is a subtle difference between the two tests.
This will get our economy moving again. Some people who could have been released into the workforce might have to remain in quarantine for 14 days until the DNA test tells us that they are not a risk, but 14 days is a small price to pay compared with the catastrophe of a complete lockdown which we face now.
The Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Health and his health Ministers, Lord Bethell and Nadine Dorries, have been fantastic as have the No 10 staff and especially the Cabinet Office Complex Transaction Team. We have great public servants. We can and will defeat C19 now.
This week is the game changer.