London Medical Laboratory warns that its testing reveals nearly one in five people still have insufficient Covid antibodies. So why has the Government scrapped the PCR tests that provide the most reliable confirmation of lateral flow results? As Omicron cases soar, it is calling on the Government not to compound its error by ending the requirement for travelers to test before arriving in the UK.
The London Medical Laboratory says scrapping many Covid testing measures because cases are so high is the equivalent of a ship’s captain stopping lookout for icebergs because there are too many.
The leading Covid-19 testing expert Dr Quinton Fivelman, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at London Medical Laboratory, says Omicron cases in over 50s are now climbing and dumbing-down England’s Covid testing procedures at this critical time is a grave mistake.
Says Dr Fivelman: ‘On Tuesday, the UK recorded more than 200,000 coronavirus cases in a day for the first time. Our lab tests are still seeing 17% of people we check for Covid antibody levels show results lower than 50AU/ml, which is classified negative; and 2.5% have absolutely no Covid antibodies at all. That is likely to mean these people will develop more severe symptoms if they catch the virus.
‘Against this background it is surely folly to reduce testing accuracy because there are too many cases. It’s the equivalent of the Titanic’s Captain Smith not checking for icebergs because he didn’t want to change course. We shouldn’t be scrapping the requirement for more accurate PCR tests following a positive lateral flow test, largely in order to combat staff absences because people can return to work earlier by not waiting for a confirmation PCR test before isolating. PCR tests tell us much more about the spread of Omicron in communities and can identify potential new Covid-19 variants. Dumbing-down the testing regime will actually increase absences longer term.
‘The new rule only requires people to take a confirmation PCR test if they are showing symptoms. We know many people with Omicron remain asymptomatic, so fewer PCR tests will be carried out and we will have a less accurate picture of how Covid-19 is evolving in our communities.
‘Likewise, for the travel industry to be arguing that tests on travelers to the UK should be ended because cases are so much higher than they were when the measures were first introduced is topsy-turvy logic. The growth in cases is actually an argument for a more effective travel testing regime, not scrapping it. The Government must not compound the mistake it has made over PCR tests by reducing other Covid testing measures still further.
‘Scrapping the need for people to test two days before arriving in the UK will be a retrograde move that could increase UK cases at an even faster rate and potentially expose greater numbers of people to further new variants before they are detected.
‘We believe it’s probably too late for the Government to introduce any meaningful new measures to combat the exponential growth of Omicron, but what it should not have done is row back on existing Plan B measures around testing at a time when one in 25 Brits have the virus and cases are still increasing.’
If anyone is concerned about their own immune response to the jabs and how well they continue to produce antibodies, the new generation blood tests available from London Medical Laboratory are highly accurate, quick and simple to carry out, either at home through the post, or at one of the many drop-in clinics that offer this test across London and the southeast.
Dr Quinton Fivelman, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer, London Medical Laboratory
London Medical Laboratory