Edinburgh Uni professor says UK is missing half of Covid cases with current testing

He said the UK is fighting with ‘one hand tied behind our back’

An Edinburgh University professor has said the UK is only identifying about half of all Covid cases with current testing.

Mark Woolhouse, a professor of infectious diseases at the university, is encouraging more cities to follow the city of Liverpool’s lead to test more individuals regardless of whether or not they’re showing symptoms.

He says using the current testing system is like “fighting the disease with one hand tied behind our back.”

Speaking to the BBC Scotland, Woolhouse said: “The problem that testing pilot scheme in Liverpool is trying to solve is that we’re still not finding about half of the Covid cases in Scotland or in the UK more generally.”

He said in regards to the lack of testing: “It’s probably partly because many of them are asymptomatic or so mildly infected they don’t recognise the symptoms, partly because people do have symptoms but actually genuinely aren’t recognising them as Covid – I’ve heard a few cases of that in the last week – and also the possibility that some people are having symptoms and actually ignoring them, perhaps because they don’t want to go into self-isolation.

“Whatever the reason, those missed 50% of cases – it’s like trying to control the epidemic with one hand tied behind our back.

“We can’t do it effectively if those cases are not also being self isolated and their contacts traced.”

Professor Woolhouse has criticised the government’s approach to coronavirus before.

He told The Tab Edinburgh about a student lockdown in September: “If your entire strategy falls down because there’s one student party somewhere in Edinburgh, then its a very weak strategy.”

First minister Nicola Sturgeon is set to address Scottish Parliament tomorrow with an update on tiers.

Related articles recommended by this writer:

Gov scientist and Edi uni professor says it’s unfair to demonise students for a second spike

Edinburgh could have a mass Covid vaccine rollout as early as next month

Return of Scottish students after Christmas ‘could be staggered’ says Education Secretary