Matt Hancock today blamed scientists for the failure to test people discharged from hospitals to care homes saying they feared ‘false negatives’.
The Health Secretary insisted the government had ‘tried’ to build a ring of steel around care homes at the start of the crisis.
But he said there had been ‘challenges’ of a lack of testing capacity, as well as advice from scientists that screening individuals who did not have symptoms would produce too many ‘false negatives’.
Mr Hancock also flatly denied Dominic Cummings‘ claim that he lied to the PM about whether residents would be tested before being returned from hospitals.
The comments came as Mr Hancock was grilled by a joint session of the Commons health and science committees.
Labour branded the Cabinet minister ‘at best disingenuous’ and said he had used information ‘selectively’ in a bid to justify his ‘abject failure’.
During the evidence session, Mr Hancock stressed that he followed the clinical advice on care homes.
‘We set out a policy that people would be tested when tests were available. Then I set about building the testing capacity for us to be able to deliver on that,’ he said.
‘The challenge was not just that we didn’t have the testing capacity but also that the clinical advice was that a test on somebody who didn’t have any symptoms could easily return a false negative and therefore give false assurance that that person did not have the disease.
Read more: What a liar – Midazolam anyone? Hancock blames scientists for failure to test people discharged from hospitals to care homes saying they feared ‘false negatives’ – if the man ever told the truth he would genetically implode from the shock