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U.K. Covid Surge Testing Not Effective, Government Adviser Warns

  • Swabs should be taken from wider areas, Mike Tildesley says
  • Surge tests to pick up new variants extended to Manchester
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Vaccine developers say they are working on a new shot to combat the South African strain of the coronavirus. Bloomberg’s Rachel Chang reports on “Bloomberg Daybreak: Middle East.”(Source: Bloomberg)

The U.K.’s plan for “surge testing” to detect and suppress new variants of coronavirus is unlikely to work unless it is done on a larger scale, a scientific adviser to the government said.

Mike Tildesley, an academic at the University of Warwick who advises Boris Johnson’s government on pandemic modeling, said authorities should “cast their net slightly wider” to pick up cases and make sure people with the virus are staying home.

Surge testing is being extended to areas around Manchester, northwest England, in a bid to control the spread of new variants which could prove resistant to vaccines, the health department said Monday. That’s in addition to eight other areas in England, which have seen more mobile testing sites and door-to-door visits by health officials.

Johnson insisted he is “very confident” the vaccines being used in the U.K. are effective against the South African variant of the disease. But early data found the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot has limited efficacy against mild and moderate cases. There were no clear results on more serious illness.