The UK COVID Exit Strategy: LFD Test Pivot

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There is a way out of this COVID-response nightmare – you replace PCR testing with LFD testing and praise the vaccines.

Three big but unannounced changes regarding ‘Case’ counting in the UK are the keys to getting out of the casedemic.

Interestingly, these decisions do NOT follow the WHO Confirmed Case definition (updated 16th Dec), as you can only count a positive LFD test as a COVID-19 case if accompanied with symptoms or in probable contact with a symptomatic/PCR Positive individual.

  1. These BIG unilateral decisions were:
    Between 10-20th Nov, PHE started including LFD data in Test Volume & Cases metrics.
  2. As of 5th Jan 2021, a massive scaling of asymptomatic LFD tests commenced across the community, business, and healthcare staff.
  3. As of 27th Jan 2021, Positive LFD tests no longer (on a temp basis) require a confirmatory PCR test to be treated as a case, contact traced and subject to self-isolation rules.

Huge (positive) consequences

The outcome of these decisions are huge. Firstly, look at the effect these decisions had on “cases” and overall test positivity.
Secondly, this allows for the UK Govt to ween themselves off of the clinically questionable PCR test for surveillance purposes.
As you can see the Test Volume increases are solely down to scaling the LFD tests. Govt are now performing more LFD than PCR tests – and this excludes LFD tests from the devolved nations!
Moreover, they have been dialling down PCR volumes since early Jan. Lo and behold, look what has been happening to “cases” and positivity.

If you look into Positivity, we can see why…

 Currently, PCR tests have a positivity rate of 11.7% (1 in 9), whilst LFD tests have a tiny value of 0.6% (1 in 167)!

Convenient Coincidence?

Add the winter seasonality effect on respiratory viruses and mortality burden that will start tapering down from here on out, plus the Vaccine coverage targets… and voila!
The perfect story. All thanks to Lockdowns, Vaccines and making Holidaying neigh on impossible. Naturally…
It’s looking pretty clear, as declared from the outset, that this variant mania instigated mid-December was and is a red herring.
And regarding the vaccine push… well, the timing is awfully convenient, effectively riding on the coattails of the above testing pivot, the PCR Ct/weak positive cautions by WHO, and the RV/mortality seasonality curve.

The only fly in the ointment re the Vaccine push is the total mortality data is looking concerning, and there is a lot of scientific concern about the UK strategy of single dosing and experimentation on the frailest.

Oh, and one other thing. We must all be grateful for the Govt pivot to LFD testing as it gives us an out of this insanity, but it comes with a downside….

LFD #EnablementTesting WILL become a standard for many business and access to public services. And, these testing pivots are considered temporary… the Govt can swing back to PCR whenever they want/need more cases.



Data comes from PHE Coronavirus dashboard and the latest Gov NHS Test & Trace report.

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