Boris: Venues could let in pre-tested concertgoers

Boris: Venues could let in pre-tested concertgoers


norman lebrecht

September 09, 2020

At his press conference the prime minister sugegsted that concert halls, theatres and sports stadia could test all audience members for Covid and allow in those who are negative. ‘We are going to pilot this approach in Salford from next month, with audiences in indoor and outdoor venues,’ he said. ‘And then we hope to go nationwide.’

He went on to say: ‘Workplaces could be opened up to all those who test negative that morning and allow them to behave in a way that was normal before Covid.’

Meanwhile, people are forbidden to gather, indoors or outdoors, in groups of more than six.




  • Lancelot Spratt says:

    A swab PCR test for sars-cov-2 takes 90 mins about the length of a concert. Who is going to wait that long or more. Consider. The test is invalidated if carried out by a non-accredited body or individual, similarly the results have to be analysed by a competent NHS pathology expert. The problem is the PCR test can also give a positive for a fragment of RNA left in a sample from someone who has already had cov-19 and subsequently recovered. So you could be turning away a lot of folk needlessly. You need at least 2 test results within a 14 day interval. The antibody test also has issues, it is not 100% accurate and can give false positives/false negatives.

    They already have made a complete Horlicks of Track n Trace by outsourcing as MD in Private Eye points out and the booking system for the swab test is all at sea. A fella I know in Crossmaglen was asked to go to a test centre in Glasgow! The booking system does not understand NI postcodes! Drr.

  • V. Lind says:

    When I was watching PM this morning, it appeared that there was not testing available for people suspected of the illness within hundreds of miles of their homes. Where’s all this testing gear coming from for ALW shows and football matches?

    And the inference to be drawn from the above post is that if testing is implemented, halls and theatres and stadia can have full houses. How long is this going to take? It’s going to be like bloody airports, where you practically have to appear the day before to get on a flight.

    All sounds very dodgy to me. Not surprising, considering it emanates from the artful dodger.

    • Lancelot Spratt says:

      No, a single test proves nothing as one can get a positive post-covid recovery as I explained. Rapid testing is not possible at present. The PCR cannot distinguish RNA from live and dead virus.

  • George says:

    Just Johnson bullshitting again, to divert attention from his numerous inanities – like “back to normal by Christmas”.

  • Emil says:

    Didn’t the UK say it had run out of tests this week?

    From the government’s perspective, restarting the arts (and the schools, the bars, etc.) gets every day more of a Potemkin Village feel.

  • Stephen Maddock says:

    It’s an excellent idea and would enable not just concerts and theatre but all economic activity to return even before we have a working vaccine.

    Unfortunately such a test does not exist – yet. Let’s hope some clever scientists can work out how to do this, and quickly.

  • Lancelot Spratt says:

    Those “Rapid” lateral flow tests one buys on Amazon do not work for sars-cov-2 they have not been properly evaluated and validated. If Bojo, Hancock et al think this is the solution they are wrong.

    Putting the ex-CEO of Talk Talk (not the one who had no clue on customer data), in charge of Track n Trace and now the ever newer version of the defunct PHE says it all about the UK governments failed plan. It is the blind leading the blind to be sure.

  • Lancelot Spratt says:

    The BMJ commentary on the government’s ludicrous Operation Moonshot for mass cov-19 testing can be read here.

    This latest plan bears the hallmark of a government whose ambition far exceeds its ability to deliver.

    This plan transmits unbounded optimism, disregarding the enormous problems with the existing testing and tracing programmes. Worse, it envisages a major role for Deloitte, a company that has presided over many of these problems. One only has to read MD in Private Eye to see why outsourcing within PHE failed and track and trace is a complete shambles.

    It focuses on only one part of the problem, testing, and says nothing about what will happen to those found positive, a particular concern given the low proportion of those who do adhere to advice to isolate—in part because of the lack of support they are offered. What parliamentary scrutiny will there be of a programme that would cost almost as much as the annual budget for the NHS [in England]?

    However, on the basis of what is presented here, this looks less like Apollo 11, which took Neill Armstrong to the moon successfully, and more like Apollo 13.

  • anon says:

    Let’s say such mass rapid tests are reliable or even feasible, who’s going to foot the bill? The cost will be included in the price of admissions, or absorbed by the venue/organisation?

    • Lancelot Spratt says:

      Alas there are no reliable rapid tests. Yes the tax payer will foot the bill or it will more likely be added to their borrowing tab of Trillions.

      We will be stuck with the Cov-19 forever at this rate. Had they locked down and tested from end of January when WHO blew the whistle on a pandemic, we might have had a very different outcome.

  • Lancelot Spratt says:

    I would urge you all to respond to this public consultation on the distribution of vaccines and treatments (unlicensed). The closing date is 18 September. The medical journals are in agreement that no vaccines should be distributed before all trial data has been fully analysed and critiqued. Clearly the government has already thrown caution to the wind.

    I have already sent in my objections to waiving liability and immunity. The Oxford vaccine “trial” has been stopped over an adverse reaction. Given that Cov-19 is a major health risk especially for the elderly and immunocompromised, it would be like adding petrol to the fire if unlicensed products were allowed to be distributed without any protection for personal injury claims etc.

    There is no evidence a vaccine will work, I certainly would not risk an unlicensed one at all. Reading between the lines, it would appear that the government is attempting to pass the buck of responsibility onto the manufacturer, instead of itself. This is further evidence why we need a change of government asap before the second and successive waves arrive.
    You can submit your comments and objections here.

    • Doc Martin says:

      I see some fools have marked you down, they clearly have no clinical understanding or knowledge of risk assessment applied to medicines.

    • Doc Martin says:

      Yes you have raised valid points. The Swine Flu vaccine had cases of narcolepsy I recall. Which is why they cannot cut corners on safety. In US Trump will find the same.

  • Lancelot Spratt says:

    What happens if Bojo and Hancock’s moonshot fails? John F Kennedy’s moonshot didn’t fail. It eventually got a man to the moon eight years later, and even if it hadn’t succeeded the world might not have been much different. The rocket scientists in the UK’s Cabinet Office are planning their own moonshot: to introduce mass testing for covid-19 on a scale that beats every other country. After telling us earlier they had a test shortage. You could not make it up.

    The financial commitment for mass population testing will be huge, considering an outlay of £500m (€550m; $650m) to merely support initial experiments. What if you spend billions on a moonshot to defeat covid-19 and you miss?

    Indeed, England’s performance in implementing a routine test, trace, and isolate programme doesn’t inspire confidence for upscaling to a moonshot. Missed targets, misleading “facts,” slow results, and false bravado are everyday occurrences.

    Lucrative contracts are awarded to private companies by opaque processes, (some are Tory donors and have Tory MPs as consultants) while money for patients is squeezed, as Helen Salisbury points out. All this without accountability or apology for mistakes and missteps.

    Testing has its place but not in isolation. For example, there is a role for regular testing of frontline health and care workers and of students and teaching staff as schools and universities reopen. But testing alone is not a panacea. It must be part of a comprehensive strategy to control community transmission, ideally one that aims for elimination of covid-19.

    Mass testing beyond people with symptoms or groups at risk quickly becomes screening, with all its associated undesirable effects. All screening programmes produce false positives, with harmful consequences for individuals and the economy. Point-of-care and laboratory tests for covid-19 are hard to interpret separately from the clinical context. Hence, mass testing risks creating confusion and, if mishandled, will further erode public confidence—the exact opposite of its stated intent.

    Covid-19 has magnified the flaws in modern healthcare. Policy is either rushed or introduced too late and is often divorced from science and evidence, instead engineered to meet political ends. We need better evidence for non-drug interventions for covid-19, argues Margaret McCartney. We also need to avoid outdated science and oversimplification, such as in the debate over physical distancing at one or two metres.

    Above all, sensationalist schemes that are based on rough and ready science, contracted out to opportunistic companies, and funded by vast amounts of taxpayers’ money risk diverting us from the direct challenges of keeping a persistent and damaging pandemic under control.

  • Lancelot Spratt says:

    Page 94 podcast from Private Eye is well worth listening to. They discuss amongst other things the mothballing of Public Health England which was ironically set up by the Tories.

    The reincarnated version does not seem to be an improvement, which is not really surprising since those that created it were not clinicians. It really is like the blind leading the blind. As a retired consultant in respiratory medicine, I am utterly appalled by this idiotic government.

  • Gus says:

    Excellent post.

    I would not have confidence that BoJo and his sidekick, Hancock have any idea of what is needed to implement testing, even if there were a suitable test available which there isn’t. What would be their strategy? Testing daily as BoJo had suggested is complete pie in the sky.

    Where testing would have been of value would have been in the early stages of this pandemic so that anyone coming into the country would be tested and if found positive put in isolation – this would have saved all healthy persons being quarantined so allowing uninfected people to remain in work, children in school, etc.

    You mention the flaws in healthcare, how much of the chaos has been due to the numerous layers of responsibilities for health that exist in the UK? There is government, SAGE, the NHS, PHE, the Department of Health and Social Services as well as devolved government. None apart from frontline NHS staff dealing with Covid patients, who have been brilliant, seem to have come out of this with any distinction or am I wrong? Where has been the voice of doctors saying you can’t cancel all my clinics? What has remained has been very little, with services stuttering along.