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43,000 people given the wrong Covid test results

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Issue 2777
The National Covid Memorial Wall already stretches more than a third of a mile along the River Thames in London,
The National Covid Memorial Wall already stretches more than a third of a mile along the River Thames in London, (Pic: Guy Smallman)

At least 43,000 people may have been wrongly given a negative Covid-19 test result, the UK Health Security Agency has said.

It has announced the ­suspension of operations at Immensa Health Clinic at its privately-run laboratory in Wolverhampton.

NHS test and trace said about 400,000 samples had been processed through the lab, the vast majority of which will have been negative results.

But an estimated 43,000 people may have been given incorrect negative PCR test results between 8 September and 12 October, mostly in south west England.

The government awarded Immensa a £119 million ­contract to “develop volume” for Coronavirus testing last year. It was granted without a standard tender process.

Companies House records show that the firm was incorporated on 18 May 2020, soon after the onset of the pandemic.

Immensa has one officer and owner—Andrea Riposati—who is also the co-founder and CEO of an Italy-based firm, Dante Labs.

Dante offers multiple ­services, primarily the creation of a genetic profile by analysing “100 percent of your DNA”.

This, the company claims, can help an individual to understand their vulnerability to genetic diseases and health risks.

In the US, Dante Labs admitted having sent five used DNA test kits to ­customers containing the saliva of other people.

One reported finding the tube where he was meant to deposit his spit was already filled with bubbly liquid and sealed up in a biohazard bag.

Despite this, Immensa won a further £50 million ­contract from the government as recently as July. It appears to have opened another PCR testing laboratory at Charnwood, Leicestershire, in September, with the launch attended by the Tory MP for Loughborough, Jane Hunt.

Dr Kit Yates, a ­mathematical biologist at the University of Bath and a member of the Independent Sage group of scientists, suggested the suspected testing errors could have had serious consequences.

He said, “We now know 43,000 people are believed to have been given false negatives, but this doesn’t even come near to the cost of the mistake.

“Many of these people will have been forced into school or work, potentially infecting others.

“This could be part of the reason behind some of the recent rises we’ve seen.”

No vaccines for the poor

Pharmaceutical firm Moderna has been supplying its Covid-19 shots almost exclusively to wealthy nations, keeping poorer countries waiting and earning billions in profit.

After developing a vaccine with the financial and scientific support of the US state, Moderna has shipped a greater share of its doses to wealthy countries than any other vaccine manufacturer.

That’s according to Airfinity, a data firm that tracks vaccine shipments

Of the 22 countries, plus the European Union to which Moderna and its distributors have reported selling the shots, none are low income.

And most middle income countries that have struck deals with Moderna have not received any doses. At least three others are paying higher prices.

Botswana, Thailand and Colombia have said they are paying £19.80 to £22 per dose.

That’s more than the US—which paid £11 to £12.10 for each shot—or the EU which paid £16.60 to £18.70.

Dozens of poorer countries have so far vaccinated less than 10 percent of their populations.

Donor Covid profiteering

Twelve companies with links to the Conservative Party, all of which won contracts during the Coronavirus pandemic, have recorded an overall 57.1 percent increase in profits—equivalent to £121.7 million.

Over 30 companies that were linked to Tory donors or were linked to Tory associates won Covid-19 contracts.

Only 12 of these have filed annual returns for the period covering the awarding of their pandemic-related contracts.

However, of the 12 firms that have filed their accounts for the relevant period, they have recorded total profits of almost £334.7 million.

The analysis was done by the Byline Intelligence Team and The Citizens which say “There is no suggestion of wrongdoing on the part of the companies and individuals involved.”

The sprawling Marbella estate where Boris Johnson stayed last week may be an awkward reminder of the questions he faced—and managed to avoid—in the wake of the Pandora papers revelations. The luxurious villa, lent to him by environment minister Zac Goldsmith, has been held by an opaque offshore structure based in multiple tax havens. The papers suggest the minister and his family may have owned the property through a Maltese company held by companies in the Turks and Caicos Islands and administered by a wealth planning firm based in Switzerland.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng’s has a plan to keep fuel bills down. He met with the energy companies last week, looked into a crystal ball, and told them, “For the late winter period from January to February 2022, the most likely scenario is for mild spells”. The energy price cap default tariffs went up by £139 last month.

Recruiting a bowl full of scabs at Kellogs

Kellogg’s workers in the US have been on strike for two weeks. Recently a job advertisement appeared saying baldly, “Kellogg’s is Now Pre-Hiring for Strike Replacement Workers”.

It went on “Our ready‑to-eat (RTEC) cereal production facilities in Battle Creek, Lancaster, Memphis, and Omaha are pre-hiring for Hourly Production Employees.

“The unions representing Kellogg’s employees in these plants are on strike, and we are looking for employees to cross the picket line and join hundreds of Kellogg salaried employees, hourly employees, and contractors to keep the lines running during the strike.”

It then outlined the qualities required. “With your can-do, go-getter, team‑player work ethic, we are positive you will fit right in. To be successful in this role, you could certainly use two scoops of communication skills and a bowl full of detail while preparing some of the world’s most favourite products for shipment.”

Panama mass graves of US invasion victims

Several bags with human remains were exhumed from a mass grave in Panama last week amid searches for the victims of the US invasion of the country in 1989.

The military operation officially took the lives of some 300 civilians. For years, families have called for a search for the remains of those who died, many of whom were buried in mass graves.

Attorney General Geomara Guerra said four bags of remains have been recovered so far at the Monte Esperanza cemetery in the city of Colon. The remains were discovered in the same bags that US soldiers distributed for burials, he added.

Officials last year began exhuming corpses at another cemetery, called Jardin de Paz, and found the unidentified remains of about 30 people.

Human rights organisations have long estimated the true number of Panamanian victims could be much higher than the official toll of 300.

This prompted former president Juan Carlos Varela to establish a commission to investigate the true number.

Things they say

‘It’s important not to reach for knee‑jerk reactions, or apportion unnecessary blame’

Dan Hodges calls for calm after the Killing of Tory MP David Amess

‘We have to begin to talk about and confront the scourge of left wing extremism’

Hodges resumes normal service a few paragraphs later blaming Angela Rayner and John McDonnell in particular and the left in general

‘Labour MUST kill vampire Jezza’

Dan Hodges article published ten days after Labour MP Jo Cox was killed

‘Honoured to be appointed United Nations Special Representative’

Matt Hancock announces he has a new job

‘Mr Hancock’s appointment by the UN Economic Commission for Africa is not being taken forward’

The UN announces he hasn’t

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