Lighthouse Labs – showing the way?

An investigation funded by The Independent has uncovered widespread concern over the “Lighthouse Lab” system for processing coronavirus tests.

UPDATE: …and now wow!

Experts including Sir Paul Nurse, Nobel laureate and director of the Francis Crick Institute in London, have branded the decision to commission the ‘Lighthouse’ laboratories – funnelling millions to private companies – a tactical mistake that was made too late, without consultation and remains shrouded in mystery

It was decided that a centralised approach would be more efficient and give greater control, rather than mobilising NHS or academic labs, and funding them to expand operations. This may have been a mistake, freezing out existing public sector laboratories in order to create private businesses.

Sir Paul Nurse, told The Independent he believed it had been a mistake for the government not to mobilise local laboratories across the country.

“I reached out to Downing Street early on but it seems that the local route was not even considered,” he said. “That was a tactical error in my view, because it was self-evident from the beginning that a locally managed solution would have been effective.

It was needed until the big labs got going, which was going to take time given the lack of preparation.

What we did at The Crick could have been done and activated at university and medical school labs across the country, which were dormant because of lockdown.

“Our local Crick lab can turn around tests in 24 hours, even under 12 hours. In these big labs it’s been as long as five days – that is next to useless. There was a failure to think creatively about how to deal with testing and the decision to set up these labs has been shrouded in mystery, at least to me. Who made the decision? Why was it made? Who advised on it? What did it cost?”

What is clear is that it was expensive, accused of contracting irregularities and not as reliable as promised. Perhaps unsurprising since it was overseen by accountancy giant Deloitte, fined for Serco tagging scandal and improperly awarded contracts in South Africa.

See the full article here.

8th June 2020 – The New Normal

After 7 weeks confined to quarters, self isolating from this killer oriental virus, spread by G5 masts and infesting the ill-advised purchase of cheap Chinese nicknacks, we became just a little stir crazy. It’s easy to recognise the signs – when your partner breathes in and then, annoyingly, breathes out again. Then it’s just a case of hiding all sharp objects and whistling a happy tune until the urge to spill blood subsides. Since we needed some essential foods we decided to enliven our boredom and drive the couple of miles to our local supermarket. What a revelation!

I realised that I had almost completely forgotten how to drive after seven weeks – well more like nine weeks not behind the wheel. Lots of traffic on the road so I proceeded, as my police friends would say, ‘with due care and attention’ and parked up in the car park opposite the longest slowest conga line I had ever seen. We joined it and shuffled forward slowly until we gained entry to the palace of wonders. It was only by employing the steely determination for which I am renowned that I refrained from sticking my left leg out, hopping and then sticking it in again.

I have to say that our supermarkets in the North seem to have done a superlative job of organising their customers; including regular distance markings on the floor and a well signposted one-way system directing shoppers onward. Clearly the guidance was lost on many, particularly aged men and hordes of trolley dollies collecting for online orders who sped hither and thither willy nilly to and fro dodging the continuing soundless conga pausing only to glare at anyone halting for more than a couple of seconds at ‘their’ shelves.

Shopping swiftly over, we repaired equally cautiously chez nous and continued our mundane daily routine. Having cleared our sizeable garage and manicured our diminutive garden I had turned my attention to our chaotic loft space. Some years ago I had part-floored the loft but since then both MBH and I had squirrelled away a multitude of unwanted or redundant ‘stuff’ up there to the point where infrequent groaning could be heard ‘up there’ which suggested that the roof beams were straining but which I maintained was a recalcitrant ghost intent on evil revenge.

My daily routine therefore consisted of a couple of hours in the loft digging out forgotten treasures and extending the flooring until it became too hot to work. The rockwool insulation necessitates the wearing of a face mask (bought from China some months ago). My respect for our health workers rose a hundredfold. Anyone who can wear these masks for an eight hour shift or more, day after day deserves the salary of a politician with added daily attendance bonus.

This is often followed by an hour or so of archery practice in our back garden.

After lunch I spend a couple of hours on a jigsaw puzzle. Not particularly challenging you might think but this puzzle was one I found stored in a puzzle case in the loft. It had belonged to my mother in law and we had sort of inherited it when she died. She had joined perhaps a couple of dozen of the 5,000 pieces and then it had been packed away. Unfortunately the box with the picture showing the finished rustic scene had not been packed away with it so my challenge was to complete the puzzle ‘blind’ so to speak. Where this image is 40% blue sky, 30% thatched roofs and 30% flowers you start to get the picture (pun intended) of how difficult a task I had set myself. Added to that, I’m pretty certain that my dear mother-in-law had either lost or secreted away a few key pieces to make life more difficult still. I bet she’s chuckling as she watches my pathetic attempts for her position of absolute authority on high.

After dinner the dismal fare of the television channels is supplemented by one of a number of good books. At the moment I’m deep into the third of the Shardlake novels by CJ Sansom and this can usually distract me until it’s time for bed. As I close the curtains on the world outside I notice, as is usual, that we are inevitably the last ones still awake on our quiet cul-de-sac.

Goodnight all.

The Disastrous Story of Covid-19 Planning in the UK.

Source: @alanferrier Twitter.