Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters The burning building

Covid-19 mass testing facilities could end the epidemic rapidly

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: (Published 22 March 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m1163
  1. Julian Peto, professor
  1. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT, UK
  1. Julian.peto{at}

In Editor’s Choice of 19 March Godlee mentions the urgent need for increased capacity to test frontline healthcare workers serologically to verify their immunity to the covid-19 virus.[1] Even more urgent is capacity for weekly viral detection in the whole UK population. This, together with intensive contact tracing, could enable the country to resume normal life immediately. The virus could only survive in those who are untested, and contact tracing would often lead to them. Within the tested population anyone infected would be detected within about a week (0 to 7 days plus sample transport and testing) of becoming infectious.

Centrally organised facilities with the capacity to test the entire UK population weekly (in 6 days at 10 million tests per …

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