The reliance on private laboratories to conduct PCR testing to enable travel to restart is ‘not feasible” according to Professor Alan McNally, from the Institute of Microbiology and Infection at the University of Birmingham.

Under Government plans due to be unveiled later this week, countries will be put into green, amber and red categories. Although full details of the plan are yet to be revealed, the small number of travellers who are currently relying on the PCR tests required by the government for post travel testing is already causing problems for laboratories, and Professor McNally who helped set up the Lighthouse labs for the UK government says that he does not see how it is logistically possible for these labs to cope with the demand from holidaymakers.

“I don’t see how it’s currently feasible.” Professor McNally said on Radio 4 Today programme. “All travel-associated testing is done by private provision labs. These are small scale labs that can maybe run a few thousand tests a day. They are government approved labs, they have to seek accreditation from the government to run these labs, but it’s very small scale.”

Professor McNally pointed out that in pre-Covid times Heathrow airport would handle 250,000 passengers each day.

“There is nothing currently that can offer good enough testing to people who might want well want to travel.”

Speaking about lateral flow testing, McNally said that lateral flow tests are “…indicative of your state at the moment in time you take it. They cannot be taken two days before you travel. It would need to be taken on the day of travel. And logistically, if you want to allow everyone in the UK to travel to Spain and France for a holiday, I am very uncertain how logistically you could pull that off.”