There has been a huge rise in the proportion of traveller PCR test results falling into a ‘black hole’ rather than being passed on to Test and Trace, according to the latest data.
Up to 150,000 results each week are not being handed over to track variants, and the proportion of results not being passed on increased to 43% during the first week of August, the Telegraph reports.
That’s despite an assurance, at the beginning of May, at a Government briefing, that PCR tests on leaving overseas destinations, and on arrival in the UK, would be vital to help research COVID variants.
As reported by Travel Gossip at the time, Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of the new UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), told a Downing Street briefing that PCR results ‘are contributing not just to UK knowledge about the growth of variants from different countries but to the global knowledge, so the whole world learns to protect themselves better’.
The Telegraph spoke to a former British Airways chief strategist, who has analysed Government data that shows more than 40% of results from the 350,000 PCR tests a week on amber list travellers are recorded as ‘unregistered’, because travel test firms have not passed the results on to the Government.
Data shows the proportion of ‘unregistered’ test results for travellers returning from amber list countries has risen from 15% in June to 43% in the week of August 4.
In the three weeks up to August 4, this means the number of ‘unregistered’ test results rose from 128,000 to 150,000, strategist Robert Boyle said.
Mr Boyle told the Telegraph: “Based on what we have seen from the testing data, I think we can add data management as another area where the system is failing dismally and seems to be in a state of disarray.
“For a system whose primary purpose is to provide decision-makers with high quality intelligence on travellers arriving in the UK, that is a big issue. “The data are being provided by the traveller in most cases but are disappearing into a test-provider black hole, and is never being passed on to Test and Trace.”
Earlier this month, Travel Gossip reported that Health Minister Sajid Javid cut the cost of private tests for arrivals available from NHS Test & Trace provider CTM by a fifth , but at the same time he ruled out a price cap for testing companies.
A Competition and Markets Authority investigation into the industry is expected within a month.