UK Health Security Agency said the Immensa laboratory in England was found to have misreported around 39,000 tests as negative which should have been positive.
England’s government agency responsible for responding to public health emergencies said mistakes at a testing laboratory resulted in tens of thousands of positive Covid-19 cases reported as negative and may have led to the death of 20 people.
Britain has one of the highest coronavirus death tolls in the world, with more than 177,000 deaths since the pandemic started in 2020.
An investigation by the UK’s Health Security Agency found the Immensa laboratory in central England misreporting around 39,000 tests as negative when they should have been positive between September 2 and October 12 last year.
“Through this investigation, we have looked carefully at the arrangements in place for overseeing contracts of private labs providing surge testing during this time,” said Richard Gleave, UKHSA director and lead investigator.
“It is our view that there was no single action that NHS Test and Trace could have taken differently to prevent this error (from) arising in the private laboratory. However, our report sets out clear recommendations to both reduce the risk of incidents like this happening again.”
Experts from the UKHSA have estimated that the blunder led to about 55,000 additional infections.
They estimated that each person who received a false negative result went on to infect around two other people on average – though some would have continued to take measures to reduce the spread of infection.