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UK could boost coronavirus tests by 300,000 a day with new tech, says Tony Blair

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An extra 300,000 coronavirus tests could be carried out every day within a few weeks if the Government brings on stream rapid antigen testing, Tony Blair has said.

The former prime minister admitted the tests may be less accurate than laboratory-based ones, but urged Boris Johnson not to “let the best be the enemy of the good”.

Mr Blair said the rapid tests, which can provide a result within around 15 minutes, were already available and that positive results could then be double-checked.

It would dramatically increase testing capacity and allow tests to be rolled out to care homes, universities, schools, airports and large employers.

In a foreword to a report on a realistic route to mass testing by his think tank, the Tony Blair Institute, he suggested as many as 700,000 tests could happen each day.

“At its simplest, we argue that tests should be validated based on their ability to identify if someone is infectious rather than if someone simply has the virus.

“This new development is critical to bringing onboard a series of new, rapid antigen tests that are available now,” he said.

“We accept these are less accurate than the lab-based tests that are being used across the country but they are good enough for mass testing.

“Don’t let the best be the enemy of the good.”

Under the proposal, people who test positive with a rapid test would qualify for a lab-based test. If that confirms a positive result, then the person would self-isolate.

If they tested negative, they would not need to quarantine.

The report also suggests key workers could be exempted from mass-testing for 90 days if they are found to have antibodies, rather than weekly tests.

And it recommends deploying saliva-based testing lorries around the country and using international help with the RAF helping to ensure results are back within the day.

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