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Latest 13 March 2023

£250m wasted on ‘VIP’ Covid tests

Mufid Majnun / Unsplash

An investigation by Good Law Project has revealed the Department of Health and Social Care wasted a staggering £246.6m of taxpayers’ money procuring 126 million “unusable” Covid tests.

The details were obtained via a freedom of information request and named six companies that supplied the unusable lateral flow and LAMP tests – four of which were awarded deals via the secretive VIP Lane.

The ‘VIP’ suppliers were:

  • Innova Medical, who landed Covid contracts valued at £4bn via the VIP lane after its UK partner, a company trading under the name ‘Tried & Tested’, contacted Boris Johnson’s former advisor, Dominic Cummings.
  • Surescreen Diagnostics, who were awarded a £500m contract after Liam Fox MP referred the firm to Matt Hancock. Surescreen subsequently donated £20,000 to Liam Fox.
  • Abbott Diagnostics and OptiGene Ltd, both of whom were referred onto the VIP lane by former health minister Lord Bethell – OptiGene were subsequently awarded a £322m contract, leading to a 1221% increase in profits to £41m.

Unusable kits were also supplied by Taner Pharma UK Ltd and Medco Solutions Ltd. Overall, the DHSC confirmed they currently hold in storage Covid tests valued at £279m, of which we now know £246m will go to waste.

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We have previously reported on the staggering waste generated by the Government’s controversial approach to procurement during the pandemic. Last month, we revealed that PPE losses had risen to £14.9bn.

The Department of Health and Social Care’s annual accounts for 2021-22 revealed a further £6bn write-down in connection with PPE and other inventory. This follows a £8.9bn write-down in 2020-21.

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