PCR Testing

Covid Testing Halted at Lab in Wolverhampton Given £120 Million by Government After Hair-Raising Investigation

Testing has been suspended at a lab in Wolverhampton that’s been given £120 million by the Government after an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority found that workers at the lab were filmed fighting and apparently drinking while on shift in January. The regulator fears that up to 45,000 infected people might have been wrongly given the all clear. MailOnline has more.

Immensa Health Clinic – awarded a £120million Government deal – is responsible for prosessing PCR tests taken at sites based mainly in the South West.

But an investigation has found swabs sent to the lab may have been checked incorrectly since September 8, with infected Britons told they do not have the virus.

Health chiefs said it had analysed more than 400,000 swabs since early last month, but the vast majority of these would have been negative.

People who may have been given an incorrect result will be contacted in the coming days and asked to take another PCR test. Samples are being redirected to other laboratories.

There are no technical issues with test kits themselves and people should continue to test as normal, officials said.

West Berkshire council today urged everyone who got tested at one site in its area between October 3rd and 12th to get a second PCR test.

It comes after workers at the lab on Wolverhampton University science park were filmed fighting and apparently drinking while on shift in January.

There are concerns failures at the lab may be linked to a rising number of reports of faulty lateral flow tests in England. …

Dr Will Welfare, the public health incident director at the UK Health Security Agency which replaced Public Health England, said an investigation had revealed concerns over the way the lab was analysing swabs.

He said in a statement: “We have recently seen a rising number of positive LFD results subsequently testing negative on PCR.

“As a result of our investigation, we are working with NHS Test and Trace and the company to determine the laboratory technical issues which have led to inaccurate PCR results being issued to people.

“We have immediately suspended testing at this laboratory while we continue the investigation.”

He added: “There is no evidence of any faults with LFD or PCR test kits themselves and the public should remain confident in using them and in other laboratory services currently provided.

“If you get a positive LFD test, it’s important to make sure that you then get a follow up PCR test to confirm you have COVID-19. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, self-isolate and take a PCR test.”

Professor Alan McNally, a geneticist at Birmingham University, warned that this could be just the “tip of a rather large iceberg”.

Immensa Health Clinic won a £119 million Government contract in November last year to carry out PCR tests.

This was not put out to tender, meaning other companies did not have a chance to bid for the deal.

Worth reading in full.

This isn’t the first time a PCR lab in receipt of tens of millions of pounds of Government money has been exposed as not fit for purpose. The Daily Sceptic ran a piece by a whistleblower about shortcomings at a Lighthouse Lab in Milton Keynes last November.

PCR Tests for Travel Will Be Scrapped in Time for Half-Term Holidays

PCR Covid tests for travel will be scrapped from October 22nd, despite previous reports suggesting they could stay in place at least until the back end of the half-term week. The Telegraph has the story.

Fully vaccinated holidaymakers will instead be allowed to book and use cheaper lateral flow tests when they return to Britain from half-term breaks.

This should reduce the costs from an average of around £60 to £70 for a PCR test to between £20 and £35 for a lateral flow test from an approved provider on the Government’s official website.

As previously with PCR tests, double-vaccinated travellers will be expected to book lateral flow tests in advance, register them on their passenger locator forms and then take them on or before day two of their return to the U.K.

The Department of Health and Social Care has accepted that the test can be done by holidaymakers at home, but the result will have to be verified with the test firm by providing a photograph of the kit with its registration number. [Not by providing a video recording of the testing process, as ministers have at one time considered.] …

Only unvaccinated travellers now have to take a pre-departure test and then quarantine for 10 days on their return and pay for PCR tests on days two and eight of their return. The pre-departure test for double jabbed travellers was ditched on October 4th.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Isabel Oakeshott asks why travellers are being forced to pay for lateral flow tests “when we all have boxes of the damn things at home”?

‘Traffic Light’ System Is Gone, but PCR Tests Will Remain for Now

Brits – vaccinated or otherwise – returning from their holidays abroad will still be forced to fork out for expensive PCR tests at least until the end of October, the Department for Transport has announced, despite the scrapping of the ‘traffic light’ travel system. The Telegraph has the story.

The Department for Transport warned that expensive PCR tests will still be required for fully jabbed travellers returning from holiday until the end of next month, and may not be removed before the back end of the half-term week, which starts on October 25th.

Even if the Government scraps them in time, fully vaccinated travellers will still face lateral flow or rapid antigen tests, which the Telegraph found on Friday being sold by Government-approved private providers for as much as £150.

Airline and airport chiefs said the “unnecessary” continued testing of jabbed holidaymakers and business travellers made travel less affordable and put the U.K. at a disadvantage to Europe.

It came as the Government removed the traffic light system by merging its Green and Amber Lists of countries, which means unvaccinated travellers will have to quarantine on return from any foreign country. Eight ‘winter sun’ countries including Egypt, Kenya and Turkey will come off the red list.

Johan Lundgren, the Chief Executive of easyJet, said: “Since July 1st, there has been no testing at all for vaccinated travellers within the rest of Europe, and this is why the U.K. will continue to fall further behind the rest of Europe if this remains.”

John Holland-Kaye, the Chief Executive of Heathrow Airport, said: “The decision to require fully vaccinated passengers to take more costly private lateral flow tests is an unnecessary barrier to travel, which keeps the U.K. out of step with the rest of the EU.” …

The Department for Transport told industry chiefs it could scrap PCR tests for the fully jabbed by October 23, but officially it said it aimed “to have it in place for when people return from half-term breaks”.

A Telegraph analysis of lateral flow/antigen tests on the Gov.uk website found the most expensive to be £150, offered by The Private GP Clinic in Sevenoaks, Kent, which compared with the cheapest at £14.99 offered by O Covid Clear.

Worth reading in full.

Scientists Find Most PCR Test Results Do Not Indicate Infectious Virus, Question Test’s Status as “Gold Standard”

How often do we hear that the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test is the “gold standard” for detecting COVID-19 infection and thus for controlling and containing a COVID-19 epidemic? To question the accuracy of this test is supposedly part of the “misinformation” sceptics spread, which Ofcom, being guided by biased, Big Tech-funded, activist organisation Full Fact, aims to suppress.

In reality, serious questions about the proper use of PCR tests, particularly in mass screening programmes, have been asked since the technique was invented in 1985 and predate the Covid pandemic.

Since early 2020, there have been concerns that defining a “case” of COVID-19 merely in terms of a positive PCR test – with no consideration of clinical symptoms or the cycle threshold (Ct) of the test, which indicates the viral load of the patient – debases the concept of a clinical case and exaggerates the prevalence of the disease, fuelling alarm.

The issue was raised by Harvard epidemiologist Michael Mina and colleagues in the Lancet in February 2021, where they concluded that the cycle thresholds in reported test data were such that only a quarter to a half of positive PCR tests were likely to indicate the presence of infectious COVID-19. The rest, they argued, were detecting post-infectious viral particles, meaning relying on PCR testing was overstating the number of infectious cases of COVID-19 by a factor of between two and four.

This conclusion has now been underlined in a research letter in the Journal of Infection by seven scientists from the Universities of Münster and Essen. After analysing the test results from a large laboratory in Münster that amounted to 80% of all Covid PCR tests in the Münster region during March to November 2020, they found that “more than half of individuals with positive PCR test results are unlikely to have been infectious”. They thus conclude: “RT-PCR test positivity should not be taken as an accurate measure of infectious SARS-CoV-2 incidence.”

More False Positives Than True Positives in the First Two Weeks of School Testing

A member of SAGE warned back in February that the return of unvaccinated children to the classroom would create a “significant risk of a resurgence” of Covid infections. This was not the case – only 0.06% of rapid Covid tests of students produced positive results in the week that schools reopened. But how many of these results were actually positive? Professor Jon Deeks, a biostatistician from the University of Birmingham, said in March: “We would expect far more false positives than true positives amongst those testing positive in schools.” New data from the Department of Health and Social Care has now confirmed that more false positive results were produced than true positives in the first two weeks of school testing.

Department of Health and Social Care

This data, as Professor Deeks points out, is a damning indictment of the use of rapid Covid testing in schools and has resulted in many children having to isolate at home unnecessarily – with their classmates often being sent home too. (At one stage, more than 200,000 schoolchildren were having to self-isolate, forcing them to miss out on much-needed catch-up work in classes.)

[The] proportion[s] false were 62% and 55% in these two weeks.

Of 2,304 positive tests, 1,353 were likely false, with one positive per 6,900 tests done.

The use of PCR tests to confirm or (in more cases) deny lateral flow test results is itself a strange choice, as Lockdown Sceptics’ Will Jones points out, and could mean that the true impact of rapid testing in schools is even worse than this data suggests.

It is interesting that they assume confirmation from a PCR test defines true and false positives, even though PCR tests are more sensitive than LFTs so are no less likely to give a positive from fragments or contamination. What if in some cases the PCR tests are just confirming the false positive of the lateral flow tests?

The British Medical Journal has been warning against the use of PCR tests for “case finding, mass screening, and disease surveillance” since last September (if not before):

PCR is not a test of infectiousness. Rather, the test detects trace amounts of viral genome sequence, which may be either live transmissible virus or irrelevant RNA fragments from previous infection. When people with symptoms or who have been recently exposed receive a positive PCR result they will probably be infectious. But a positive result in someone without symptoms or known recent exposure may be from live or dead virus, and so does not determine whether the person is infectious and able to transmit the virus to others.

Clearly, testing requirements for schools must now change. But the problem is not limited to the classroom. Professor Deeks says that false positive data should now be released for all forms of lateral flow testing.

Why Can’t the Government be More Transparent About the Data Guiding its Decisions?

We’re publishing an original piece today by Dr Anthony Fryer, a Professor of Clinical Biochemistry at the School of Medicine at Keele University and member of HART. He is becoming more and more frustrated that the Government isn’t being more transparent about the data it’s basing its decisions on, its failure to contextualise the data it does release and why, in particular, it has failed to acknowledge the impact false positives have in inflating the number of cases as well as the figures about how many people have supposedly died from COVID-19. Here are the first three paragraphs:

When I look back over the last year or so of the pandemic, I can forgive the first couple of months. We were all finding our feet with a largely unknown entity. However, as a clinical scientist with over 30 years in NHS laboratories and as an academic researcher with over 200 peer-reviewed clinical research articles in scientific and medical journals (including over 130 involving use of the polymerase chain reaction [PCR]), I found my views increasingly divergent from those of the Government and its advisors. Those who know me will know that it takes a lot to get me annoyed, but I could not sit by and do nothing when I could see the immense damage being done to countless lives and businesses in the name of supposedly protecting us from SARS-CoV-2.

But let me say at the start; I am not one to deny the damage that COVID-19 can do. (And I deliberately use that term, rather than SARS-CoV-2. It’s the disease that causes the problems – most people manage the virus without much difficulty.) COVID-19 can be very nasty and my heart goes out to all those affected. But the way in which the Government handled the pandemic has, in my view, been shocking. It’s felt like it has focused blindly on the virus (and not very well at that either – just think about PPE in care homes for a start) and ignored the massive implications on every other level.

So I wrote. I wrote letters to the local paper, emailed the Chief Medical Officer, submitted evidence to a Parliamentary Inquiry, signed the Great Barrington Declaration, published scientific papers on the ineffectiveness of face coverings and on the non-Covid harms to people with diabetes, and wrote to my MP. Several times. I also joined UsforThem and the Health Advisory and Recovery Team (HART).

This is a brilliant piece by an eminent medical scientist who’s been red-pilled by the Government’s poor handling of the pandemic and is very much worth reading in full.

PCR Expert: UK’s Testing System is a Mess, Monopolising PCR For Covid is Killing People and We Should Follow in Florida’s Footsteps

We’re publishing an interview today with Kevin McKernan, a PCR expert. He is the Chief Scientific Officer and founder of US company Medicinal Genomics, the former CSO of Courtagen Life Sciences Inc and former Vice President and Director of R&D of Life Technologies. He was also the President and CSO of Agencourt Personal Genomics, a start-up company he co-founded in 2005 to invent revolutionary sequencing technologies that dropped the cost of sequencing a human genome from $300 million to $3,000. According to McKernan, the UK’s testing system is “a mess” and not using PCR tests to diagnose other diseases, because all the reagents are being used to diagnose Covid, is “killing people”. He also thinks the UK’s glacial reopening is “madness” and that the we should follow in the footsteps of Florida. Here he is talking about the Lighthouse Labs:

It’s pretty messy in the Lighthouse Labs. They do not have a great reputation from the people I have interacted with there. The people who push back on the PCR thing are the lab folk who say, ‘Well, we found RNA there’ – and they probably did, they’re probably right about that. But what they couldn’t sort out is whether it was infectious RNA or not and they will say, ‘Well that’s not PCR’s job, that’s not our job.’ Well, if you are calling things medical cases off a single test then it is your job to figure out whether that person needs to be quarantined.

It’s a mess and it’s very heterogeneous data, you cannot assume all of the labs are running the same protocol, so that adds further to the smoke and mirrors. That’s why I’m sceptical that the people doing this actually care. You see what’s going on and it’s clearly a mess and anyone who brings it up gets shouted at. But it’s quite clear for anyone who is in the field and not on the gravy train. And there is clear evidence that it has false negatives too, which makes the whole contract tracing stuff a mirage. There’s reports of up to 30% false negatives, where the swab just doesn’t find anything and you get nothing even though you have it. For Matt Hancock to say that it [PCR test] is rock solid, he is just a moron.

There are ways to use PCR responsibly. You either run it twice, such as day one and day two and, if your viral load is going up, you’re on the front end of the infection curve. If it’s going down, you’re clearing it. But they’re just being lazy and don’t want to do it. There is no argument they can make that they [labs] can’t run it twice. They will say it doubles the amount of testing we have to do – they just scaled up 100 fold in a year, you can’t do twice to get accurate on this? They want positivity because positivity brings in more revenue. Once you’re positive, all your family members come in for testing. So they want that bar of positivity set as low as possible so as many people get sucked into the vacuum as possible. They’re financially motivated for false positives.

The interview is by Oliver May, a staff journalist at a national newspaper group. Oliver May is a pseudonym because the journalist is concerned that if he was to disclose his identity he would get into trouble at work.

Worth reading in full.