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Case update 23 December 2020

Is Moonshot at last being canned?

Government has this week been forced to halt its plans to roll out rapid-turnaround Covid-19 test centres across England over Christmas due to widespread concerns from public health experts about the accuracy of the tests. 

Its £100bn “Operation Moonshot” mass-testing programme was supposed to increase the number of tests carried out per day from 430,000 to 10 million by early 2021. But data from the mass testing pilot in Liverpool this month has revealed that the rapid-turnaround tests missed half of cases detected by standard Covid tests. 

This is not only a phenomenal waste of public money, it is an enormous risk to public health. 

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If rapid tests miss half of all cases the virus will spread via people who think they’ve got the all-clear, but are actually infected. Jon Deeks, a professor of biostatistics and the head of the test evaluation group at Birmingham University, has described the tests as “not fit for purpose” and “dangerous”.

Government continues to refuse to come clean about how or why spending decisions are being made on its mass testing programme and it is deploying every possible tactic to delay and obfuscate in our judicial review claim. 

In its amended Grounds of Resistance, Government does not even attempt to argue that its direct awarding of these contracts was lawful. It also continues to refuse our request to disclose the documents which record the basis of its decision not to seek the expert advice of its own specialist advisory body, the National Screening Committee (“the NSC”). It’s hard for us to imagine we would be in this position if they had consulted the NSC. 

The Government’s argument is that its mass testing programme does not constitute a “screening” programme, and therefore it was not required to obtain and take into account the advice of the NSC. We don’t think that’s true. But don’t take it from me, read the expert take down of the Government’s argument in the new witness statement from Dr Angela Raffle, one of the UK’s leading mass testing experts. 

You can read more in our full response and my further witness statement

We will not let Government off the hook. Billions of public money has already been spent on failing tests, with no accountability. We will pursue the truth through the courts 

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