Matt Hancock has admitted there is a “huge amount to do” in order to hit 100,000 tests per day by the end of April, as the health official in charge said three mega laboratories would begin scaling up “very soon”.
This morning the Health Secretary staked his reputation on the target, issuing a personal guarantee that the UK would reach the new goal on time.
However, he refused to say whether he would resign if the goal was not reached.
Mr Hancock’s five-point plan includes greater use of private labs, random testing of the public and the introduction of antibody tests that could be done at home to establish whether someone has recovered from the virus and is immune.
However, he acknowledged that the target would require a significant effort to deliver, telling Sky News: “One of the things I tried to do yesterday was set out just some of the real-world challenges that there are.
“There are barriers, there will be bumps in the road and some of this is going to be very difficult.”
Separately, Professor John Newton of Public Health England, who is in charge of the new plan, said that three mega laboratories in Manchester, Glasgow and Milton Keynes were now “on stream”.
“The really big scale up is going to start very soon,” he added. “We hope to start increasing exponentially very soon and that will allow us to do as many tests as possible.”