£100BILLION 'Operation Moonshot' plan could see entire UK population tested for coronavirus in just a week

TEN million daily Covid tests will be dished out to get Brits back to the footie, theatre and their mate’s house under new Government plans costing £100billion.

The entire population of the UK could be tested in a week under Downing Street’s ambitious Operation Moonshot programme.

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Boris Johnson vowed to roll out new tests which can deliver results in just 15 minutes.

He said a negative result would give Brits a “freedom pass” — allowing people to mingle like they did before Covid.

But this morning Transport Secretary Grant Shapps admitted that the new tech wasn't ready yet.

He told Sky News this morning: "This is technology that, to be perfectly blunt, requires further development – there isn't a certified test in the world that does this but there are people that are working on prototypes."

He added: "We know this isn't simple to achieve, but we hope it will be possible through technology and new tests to have a test which works by not having to return the sample to a lab."

Britain will bring its testing capacity up from 300,000 a day to 500,000 by the end of October.

And after that ministers want to roll out mass testing to everyone as soon as it's possible.

It was also revealed yesterday:

  • Groups of more than six will be banned from Monday – and anyone who disobeys faced a £100 minimum fine
  • Pub-goers and diners will be FORCED to hand over their details when they go out as part of a ramping up of track and trace
  • A new army of health and safety inspectors will be rolled out by local authorities to crack down on places not enforcing safety rules
  • Britain's borders will be beefed up with fresh plans to force airlines into making sure everyone fills out new passenger forms – leaving officials more time to check people are in quarantine
  • Stadium pilots will be reviewed and any that go ahead will be limited to 1000 only – putting the return of live sport in doubt
  • Night-time curfews for businesses could be slapped on other areas of the country in future

The PM said last night: “Through that Moonshot of daily testing – everybody gets a rapid turn-around test in the morning, 15 minutes later you know whether you are infectious or not.”

He added: “Our plan will require a giant, collaborative effort from government, business, public health professionals, scientists, logistics experts and many, many more.

“Work is underway — and we will get on at pace until we get there, round the clock. We are hopeful this approach will be widespread by the spring.”

Ministers have drawn up plans to pump £100billion into the programme, according to a document leaked to the British Medical Journal, but this was played down by Government sources.

Under the plan, Brits would swab themselves in the morning and be given a 24-hour pass to mingle without having to stick to social distancing rules.

A person could prove they had tested negative by either electronically presenting their result, or showing a printed card.

The tests will be trialled in the Covid hotspot of Salford from next month.

However, critics have pointed out that the hugely expensive plan costs almost as much as the NHS's yearly budget for England – £130bn.

The health service represents some 20 per cent of all public spending. 

The 'moonshot' spending also equates to the cost of the nation's education budget and represents a near-30-fold increase in the UK's testing capacity.

In a memo sent to the first minister and cabinet secretaries in Scotland revealed by the BMJ, it was warned: "This is described by the prime minister as our only hope for avoiding a second national lockdown before a vaccine, something the country cannot afford."

Currently, around 350,000 daily tests being carried out at the moment.

However, many have recently reported problems getting a test as labs reach a "critical pinch-point".

Meanwhile, Matt Hancock this week slammed holidaymakers for triggering coroanvirus test shortages.

The Health Secretary warned some were abusing the system, with healthy people getting needlessly tested before jetting off on their holidays.

He told BBC Breakfast: "We have seen this quite sharp rise in the last couple of weeks of people without symptoms who don't have a good reason coming forward to get a test.

"There have been stories of whole schools, or parts of schools, being all sent to get a test – that is not acceptable, that is not an appropriate use of our testing resources.

"I've even heard stories of people saying, 'I'm going on holiday next week therefore I'm going to get a test.' No – that is not what the testing system is there for.”

This week, the Government's director of testing and Test & Trace, Sarah Jane-Marsh, was forced to apologise after people were told they could not get a swab.

All home tests were also unavailable.

On top of that, experts have warned lab capacity may mean it's not feasible to roll out the plan.

And Professor Chris Whitty said that while he believes it's "likely" such testing will exist in the "not-too-distant future", he added: "Not-too-distant future covers quite a wide rime range."

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