“Dunkirk” Effort“Dunkirk” Effort to Boost Coronavirus Testing Begins

Published 2 April 2020

A “Dunkirk” effort from smaller labs to meet the massive demand for coronavirus tests is finally under way after ministers lost patience with efforts by public health officials.
Francis Elliott and Rhys Blakely write in The Times that the head of the respected Francis Crick Institute urged the government to move away from the cumbersome “big boats” of testing — Public Health England (PHE) and the NHS — towards smaller organizations like his to increase the level of testing of frontline staff, which stood at just 2,000 yesterday.
Sir Paul Nurse, director of the Crick, said: “Institutes like ours are coming together with a Dunkirk spirit — small boats that collectively can have a huge impact on the national endeavor.”
He added: “The government has put some big boats, destroyers in place. That’s a bit more cumbersome to get working and we wish them all the luck to do that, but we little boats can contribute as well.”
The Crick and 300 of its staff, Europe’s biggest biomedical research facility, volunteered help two weeks ago but have been kept waiting ever since.
It was also reported that employees at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) believe that PHE failed to utilize its capacity to deliver 40,000 tests a week two months after it was first identified.