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Covid testing: We have a right to the facts on PCR

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WHEN we travel by plane, we trust the pilot knows how to fly it. When we use a satnav, we trust it to be accurate or we end up in the wrong place. To calculate with a computer spreadsheet, we trust it will give us the correct answers.

The Government’s whole Covid strategy since the summer has been centred around, and reliant upon, the mass testing regime; the much-heralded PCR swab tests and their network of Lighthouse laboratories. The test’s accuracy is essential and has driven all our leaders’ decisions across the four nations.

Now evidence is emerging that this test, when processed in these ‘gold standard’ labs, may have led us to the wrong location. In Italy, legal actions are under way against PCR testing companies. A Portuguese court has ruled the PCR test unreliable, whilst Norway double checks positive PCR results with a second test; is that one of the reasons why their cases are lower than ours? In the UK, reasons for doubt grow by the week. More and more results from the new lateral flow test (LFT) show sharp reductions in cases compared to PCR positives.

First it was Liverpool, where the LFT produced only 0.7 per cent positives, just one in five of the PCR positive results in the same community taken over the same period. Liverpool City Council said they would double-check all the LFT positives but have so far refused to produce the results. This is vital to prove whether we are comparing approximately like with like in Liverpool; some claim that huge numbers of symptomatic people are being tested there with PCR and only asymptomatic people are being tested with LFT, which I struggle to believe. 

Then Merthyr Tydfil, the No 1 Covid hotspot in the UK in early November, used the LFT, and over three weeks, just 1.36 per cent were positives from more than 23,000 such tests. Yet across the rest of Wales, the cases based on PCR test results are approaching 9 per cent for the same period.

The universities of Bristol, Birmingham and St Andrews have done more than 8,000 LFTs between them with just four positives, a rate of 0.05 per cent. Meanwhile at Cambridge University, in the week to December 6, their PCR results showed 11 positives, after being processed in their very own Cambridge Lighthouse laboratory, a rate of 0.5 per cent. But when these positives were double-checked with a second PCR test, all 11 were found to be false positive. That is 100 per cent false positives. Previous weeks at Cambridge have also shown significant false positives when double-tested.

Meanwhile hospitals and ICU departments are no busier than expected every winter, indeed some are quieter, with fewer operations. All this while many thousands of excess deaths are occurring at home involving non-Covid issues, many of whom would surely have gone to hospital.

So we at Reform UK have issued a challenge to the Government: let’s treble-check a decent sample of 1,000 people with their own PCR test processed in Lighthouse labs, the Innova LFT and an independently processed PCR test, all taken on the same day. We can then all have direct comparable evidence to validate or eradicate these concerns.

‘Follow the money’ very often provides the answers, particularly when something seems illogical. A number of companies and universities such as Cambridge are being paid many millions of pounds in the huge PCR industry, producing the test kits, manning the labs, delivering the tests and so the list goes on.

If the Government refuse to do the treble-check test, we have to ask why? If they are so confident in their PCR regime, why not prove it? What are they scared of? Surely key individuals will be keen to prove their accuracy to protect their reputations. The PCR mass testing regime is the bedrock foundation of this Government’s Covid strategy; it must be right to confirm its validity.

Of course, if mass PCR testing is proven to be unreliable, everything changes. Resignations would follow, the taxpayer can stop forking out large sums for inaccurate data and the incidence of the virus will be proven to be lower. We may then be able to get back to normal faster. We have the right to the facts.

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Richard Tice
Richard Tice is Leader of Reform UK (formerly known as the Brexit Party).

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