RSS warn of statistical issues over ‘Moonshot’ plans

The RSS has warned of potential harms associated with mass testing of UK citizens for Covid-19, as proposed in the government’s proposed ‘Moonshot’ plans announced last week.

The plans aim to prevent those who are negative from having to self-isolate. However, in a letter to The Times, Professors Sylvia Richardson and Jon Deeks – both members of the RSS Covid-19 Task Force – say that the plan ‘does not appear to take account of fundamental statistical issues’.

Sylvia and Jon point out that in order to be successful, the plan would need the diagnostic tests to be capable of detecting nearly all cases, adding: ‘There are harms associated with testing – as there are with not-testing – and before the UK decides to move towards mass-testing, the balance of these harms needs to be assessed.’

The letter acknowledges that mass testing might be the right approach, but in order to know whether it is, we must first clearly understand the government’s objective.

Finally, Sylvia and Jon offered to provide support with the essential statistical issues.

Read the letter in full (PDF).

A slightly shorter version of the letter was published in The Times along with a front page article that covered the issue (both paywalled).

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