Fury at Covid travel test shambles as banned firm tops government list

Fury at Covid travel test shambles as banned firm tops government list

08/17/2021

Fury over Covid travel test shambles as banned firm tops government list sending crackdown into farce

  • Health Secretary Sajid Javid has pledged to tackle ‘cowboy’ covid test firms 
  • But one firm, 001.Doctor, which was banned in April, topped the government’s approved list of private testing firms on the GOV.UK site over the weekend 
  • The firm was removed after travellers did not receive £170 home test kits 
  • Mix up has led to accusations that Mr Javid is cracking down ‘in name only’  

A crackdown on rogue travel test firms descended into farce yesterday after one which left hundreds of travellers in the lurch was promoted to the top of the government-approved list.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid pledged to tackle ‘cowboy’ private testing firms last week, insisting they would start being purged from the GOV.UK site on Saturday.

But on Sunday 001.Doctor, which was removed from the portal in April following a flood of complaints, was top of the list.

It remained there for most of yesterday, leading to accusations that Mr Javid had launched ‘a crackdown in name only’. According to Companies House records, the firm changed its trading name last month from .001 Doctor UK LTD to European Health Technology LTD.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid pledged to tackle ‘cowboy’ private testing firms last week, insisting they would start being purged from the GOV.UK site on Saturday

Its name also changed, from ‘.001 Doctor’ to ‘001.Doctor’. It was unclear last night if the name changes allowed it to re-join the government-approved list of PCR test providers. 

The firm, founded last November, was removed after dozens of complaints from travellers who did not receive home test kits they had paid £170 for. Others received no results or another person’s.

Customers told of being left ‘confused’ and ‘distressed’ with many forced to extend their self-isolation period as a result. Of 821 reviews on consumer website Trustpilot, 98 per cent have rated it as ‘bad’. 

Yesterday 001.Doctor was advertised on the portal as offering single and double-test packages for £20. But when clicking through to the firm’s official website, its £20 ‘home kits’ were ‘out of stock’.

In-clinic swabs were available for the same price, but only at one of five centres across the country and some were not available for weeks.

The real cost of a single swab test-at-home kit delivered via post was £54 and £119 for a two-swab package. The firm was contacted for comment yesterday.

The Government has said it will crack down on private testing firms. Pictured, a standard test

A Daily Mail analysis found more than 30 private firms still listed on the Government portal offering two-swab testing packages for £20. 

But on their official websites yesterday, many simply said they were out of stock, only available to NHS workers or at in-centre sites potentially hundreds of miles away. The real cost was up to six times higher.

Consumer groups say advertising unobtainable low prices allow firms to feature high on the list, as it ranks them by cost. 

Companies are also sorted alphabetically, meaning those with names starting with ‘0’ or ‘.’ are elevated. 

Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, who sits on the Commons transport committee, said: ‘The British public are fed up with empty promises from ministers to fix the testing rip-off shambles. They’ve had all year to grip this, but successive health ministers and Boris Johnson himself have failed.’

Lib Dem transport spokesman Sarah Olney called for a cap on PCR test prices, saying: ‘Sajid Javid’s crackdown in name only has left the door wide open for greedy providers to continue exploiting families.’

On Friday Mr Javid announced that the NHS will cut its prices from £88 to £68 for a single-test package and £170 to £136 for a two-swab kit. Ministers hope private firms will follow, bringing prices down.

Under the Government’s traffic light system, double-jabbed people must book one PCR test before arriving from countries ranked green and amber.

Non-fully vaccinated people must take a second test on day eight if arriving from amber countries.

HOW LIKELY ARE YOU TO GET COVID-19 AFTER BEING FULLY VACCINATED?

So-called ‘breakthrough’ COVID-19 cases occur when people contract the disease 14 days or more after receiving their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine or the Johnson & Johnson one-shot jab.

Clinical trials have shown that Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine is 95% effective in preventing symptomatic disease and the Moderna vaccine is 94.5% effective.

Meanwhile, real-world data showed the Pfizer jab is 91% effective against all disease for at least six months and the Moderna vaccine is 90% effective.

This means that fully vaccinated people are between 90% and 95% less likely to develop COVID-19 than unvaccinated people.

In addition, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine trials showed 72% efficacy in the U.S., meaning those who got the one-shot jab are 72% less likely to contract the disease.

When comparing fully vaccinated people who did and did not get sick, the risk is even lower.

The most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data show that 10,262 of at least 133 million Americans who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 later contracted the disease.

This translates to 0.00716% of people who have completed their vaccine series have gone on to test positive.

It also represents the true odds of getting COVID-19 after full vaccination: less than 0.01%.

What’s more, fully vaccinated people who test positive have mild illnesses, and are very unlikely to be hospitalized or die.

The CDC states that 99.5% of all deaths occur in unvaccinated people.

That means, if the figure applies to the 3,165 Americans who’ve died in July 2021 so far – as of July 13 – about 3,150 deaths would be among unvaccinated people and 15 deaths among fully vaccinated people.

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