Covid: Boris Johnson’s plans ‘driven by headlines’, claims Devi Sridhar

ONE of Nicola Sturgeon’s key advisers on the Covid pandemic has claimed UK Government decisions are being driven by “catching headlines”, not in the interests of public health.

From April 1, most people who want to test themselves for the virus will have to pay upwards of £20 for a box, with firms anticipated to hike prices further than the £3 per test it currently costs the Government to provide them.

The UK Government also confirmed that devolved administrations would be receiving no further funds to continue offering free tests in their nations, meaning they would have to take money from existing Barnett consequentials.


The First Minister described the plans to scrap free lateral flow and PCR tests as “inexcusable negligence”, saying it would be “catastrophic” for disease monitoring Now, Ms Sridhar has spoken out against the plans.

She wrote on Twitter: “Just remember UK govt COVID decisions are now driven by catching headlines & not in the interests of the health & well-being of the population.

“We can both recognize need to open up economy & society using vaccines/testing and seriousness of COVID as a disease.”

She added: “Main two issues are: not maintaining testing infrastructure (which is essential for surveillance, rapid scale-up & people knowing if they’re infectious) and isolation guidance (people who test + & are infectious shouldn’t be mixing at work or in gyms or pubs & infecting others).”

Ms Sridhar, professor of global public health at Edinburgh University, sits on the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 Advisory Group.


The Prime Minster said the UK had passed the peak of Omicron, with falling cases and hospital admissions, and added that we could now complete the “transition back towards normality”, while retaining contingencies to respond to a Covid resurgence or a new variant.

Ms Sturgeon will now have to decide whether to fund the continuation of free testing from April 1.

She is due to set out Scotland’s Covid roadmap to recovery today.

The Prime Minister’s announcement, which is thought to have pleased the majority of Tory backbenchers, included scrapping the need to self-isolate from this Thursday, as well as removing the £500 sick pay allowance from March 24.

Free testing will end on March 31 for most people in England, with symptomatic testing remaining for people in care homes, the over-80s, those who are clinically vulnerable and for people in hospital.

Mr Johnson said last night the bill for testing last month was £2 billion, adding: “We must scale back and prioritise our resources for the most vulnerable. We will continue providing free symptomatic tests for those of the highest risk.”

SNP MP Ian Blackford accused Mr Johnson of making “dangerous choices” which were “bereft of science and consultation”.

The SNP Westminster leader suggested that Scots would be paying the price for a “purely political” decision made by Mr Johnson in an attempt to save his job.

He said: “His decisions directly affect whether Scotland has the funding required to keep its people safe. That is the ridiculous reality of devolution, but it is a reality that must be addressed.”

Mr Johnson, while being heckled by the SNP MP, replied that there had been “outstanding” co-operation “between the UK Government the Scottish authority”.

He added that if there was a desire to continue offering free tests in Scotland, the government had “access to the £41 billion record settlement” and “to hundreds of millions [of pounds] from the health and care levy”.

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