Cuts in the UK could cause a Covid data drought
Cuts in the UK could cause a Covid data drought

Cuts in the UK could cause a Covid data drought

“Whichever way you look at it, it will greatly lead to a deterioration in the insight we may have, either into the number of infections or our ability to detect new variants as they come through,” said Dr. Paterson.

Experts warned that it will be difficult to restart coronavirus surveillance programs, formally known as SARS-CoV-2, when a new variant emerges.

“If there is one thing we know about SARS-CoV-2, it is that it always surprises us,” said Paul Elliott, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London and a lead investigator at one of the community studies cut down. “Things can change really, really fast.”

Other countries also apply a live-with-Covid philosophy to their surveillance. Denmark’s test rate has fallen almost 90 percent from its peak in January. The Danish government announced on March 10 that tests would only be required for certain medical reasons, such as pregnancy.

Astrid Iversen, an Oxford virologist who has consulted with the Danish government, expressed concern that the country was trying to convince itself that the pandemic was over. “The virus has not received the email,” she said.

With the drop in testing, she said, the daily number of cases in Denmark does not reflect the true state of the pandemic as well as before. But the country is increasing widespread testing of wastewater, which may work well enough to monitor new varieties. If the wastewater revealed an alarming rise, the country could start its testing again.

“I feel convinced that Denmark will be able to scale up,” she said.

Israel has also seen a drastic drop in testing, but Ran Balicer, director of the Clalit Research Institute, said the country’s health systems will continue to track variants and monitor the effectiveness of vaccines. “For us, ignoring Covid does not mean ignoring Covid,” he said.

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