Steerpike

How did Matt Hancock hit his 100,000 test target?

How did Matt Hancock hit his 100,000 test target?
Matt Hancock (Photo: Getty)
Text settings
Comments

Matt Hancock has announced that the government has managed to meet its 100,000 coronavirus tests a day target. The Health Secretary confirmed at a Downing Street press conference that on 30 April, Public Health England carried out 122,347 tests – suggesting the government not only reached its target in time, but also over-delivered. But look at the small print and there were barely 73,191 people tested yesterday. There is another mysterious second category, now introduced, that takes the figure over 100,000.

Here's the graph:

So what's the trick? The Health Service Journal reports that to reach the testing target, the government has begun to count home-testing kits which have been posted to patients, rather than completed and processed in a lab - with tens of thousands urgently dispatched yesterday. Which means that if someone signed up to receive a test on 30 April, this would count towards the governments’ figures – even if it took days or weeks for the actual test to arrive. This is way, way more than most people would have thought possible two weeks ago. But it's a bit of a push to say the test target has been met, especially when the government pledged to test 100,000 'people a day' by the end of the month:

When challenged at the press conference, officials 'fessed up. 40,369 tests have been posted out – crucially these are counted when posted, not when the results come back. The HSJ suggest a third of these tests have been sent back so far. Which is certainly one way to interpret 100,000 tests being carried out. Or to put it another way: there’s lies, damned lies, and coronavirus testing targets.

Choose your favourite Spectator cover and and you could win a signed illustration from Michael Heath

Browse the covers