There follows a guest post by Child and Adolescent Clinical Psychologist Dr. Zenobia Storah, Professor of Psychology Ellen Townsend, Clinical Professor of Public Health Allyson Pollock and Psychotherapist Sarah Waters, who say children were subjected to all manner of unevidenced and harmful interventions during the pandemic, not least of which was frequent testing, and we must now prioritise their recovery and ensure it never happens again.
Twice-weekly asymptomatic testing for COVID-19 was introduced in secondary schools in the U.K. in January 2021. Although guidance was specific to secondary education, many primary schools, nurseries and pre-schools also requested routine testing of children in their care. Regular self-testing by students has also been required at colleges and universities.
In the last month, the Government removed its testing advice for staff and pupils in most schools. We welcome this change. Mass testing has been harmful for many, especially for children. Indeed, experts have cautioned against asymptomatic mass testing. The lack of evidence on impact on transmission, high costs, and likely diversion of resources from important activities such as mental health support have all been cited. Incredibly, even though mass testing is screening, the U.K. Government ignored the Wilson and Junger 1968 principles of screening and never sought the advice of the National Screening Committee. We are not aware of any evidence-base for this policy or any risk assessment regarding potential psychological or physical harms.