Covid-19 Update

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:50 pm on 8th September 2020.

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Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 1:50 pm, 8th September 2020

In the short term, we have seen a rise in demand for testing, and the capacity—the supply—has been increasing too. We had some short-term problems with contracts; before the summer, I came to the House to describe the problem with a particular contract to do with swabs and the cleanliness of the swabs. The bigger challenge is to make sure that capacity stays ahead of demand, and when demand has gone up sharply, we need to make sure that capacity expands. There are two ways of doing that. The first is more expansion of the current technology, which we are doing, both within the NHS, as the Scottish National party spokesperson correctly called for, and by using more private sector capacity—the combination of the two. The second, where we can really break through this, is with the new generation of tests, which are much, much easier, much better value for money and easier for people to use. The combination of trying to drive up capacity in the existing system, as we have been doing for months and months, and then bringing onstream these innovative new tests is what we are trying to pull off.