Trailfinders has launched an attack on the purpose of the government’s PCR testing regime, claiming that only a small number are used for genomic sequencing to detect Covid ‘variants of concern’.
In a blog post, the firm questioned whether tests on return were “contrived to discourage travel, rather than aid health control?”.
The blog said: “The identification of new variants we are told, is why travellers have to undertake a PCR test on return.
“However, in the three-week period from July 1, only 354 of these tests were genomic sequenced to identify new variants of concern out of 500,000 tests it is reported. Of the 1.4% who tested positive (6,977) out of the half million tests, this means just 5% of those were sequenced. This even includes those coming from red list countries.
“On this basis government are either not terribly concerned about new variants, or believe only a very small number of tests are needed to establish them.”
It continued: “To give context to the 6,977 positive tests from those returning from abroad: Over the period of this data 1-21 July, there were 761,115 positive tests for Covid in the UK, making the returning travellers less than 1% of the total. Perhaps the 36,243 positive tests a day on average in the UK over this period were sufficient to pick up new strains?
“With only 1 in 1,412 tests of returning travellers sequenced, are day 2 and day 8 PCR tests contrived to discourage travel, rather than aid health control?”
The post concluded: “If the government are content to sequence a tiny sample (118 per week based on these numbers), then there are better ways: saving the cost and hassle for travellers.
“To fly back into the UK we are obliged to fill in a ‘passenger locator form’. Every 1,412th person submitting a form could be instructed to get a Day 2 test at an NHS testing centre. The equivalent of a random bag check at customs when you go through the green channel. QED
“Even the fully vaccinated returning from green list countries, with very few cases, are required to undergo a day 2 test. Is the reason for these tests to deter travel rather than to uncover new variants? The data suggests this may well be the case.”