Virus testing capacity and deadlines


Sir, – Mark Paul’s report gives a welcome and encouraging overview of the part played by Irish companies in securing much-needed supplies of testing ingredients (“How the private sector answered Ireland’s call for help on coronavirus testing”, Business, May 8th).

There’s also a reference to a HSE target of 15,000 tests per week “to be achieved by the third week in May”.

But haven’t we been here before? About three weeks ago, your health correspondent reported on the procurement in China of 19 PCR machines plus reagents that were, at that stage, being rolled out to laboratories on a national basis “in order to support the rollout of a system to provide test results within 24 hours by early May” (“Equipment from China will allow for rapid testing service for virus”, News, April 20th). In the same piece, we were also assured by Prof Paddy Mallon from St Vincent’s hospital that, “We now have the supply to do literally hundreds of thousands of extractions.”

While it is asserted constantly that the defeat of the virus is linked to to our capacity to conduct fast-turnaround mass testing, the enduring confusion around capacity and deadlines only serves to undermine public confidence, despite the best efforts of our industry champions. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.