It is understandable that when someone like Michael Gove stands up and speaks on behalf of the Government, that everything he reads from the lectern will be listened to by many people and some observers will assess those words in a way that is more difficult to justify when people like Boris appear to speak without a script or indeed any research. One of the people who responded to some of the words from Gove was Robert Peston who focused on the “Chemical Reagents” phrase which according to Michael are not sufficient to allow the testing of the people who may have COVID-19 and are therefore unable to carry on working. Robert did a bit of research and his response is that in fact there is plenty of the reagents according to the UK chemical industry. So this is a clear area which needs to be clarified and either Gove or Peston need to correct the information that they have stated as the reality is very important. Indeed there will no doubt be further assessments made throughout the next few days. To see the context for the reagent comment, Gove’s speech yesterday included these words:
“The rate of testing is increasing, we must go further, faster. A critical constraint on the ability to rapidly increase testing capacity is the availability of the chemical reagents which are necessary in the testing. The Prime Minister and the Health Secretary are working with companies worldwide to ensure that we get the material we need to increase tests of all kinds”
To be honest I only got a grade 4 CSE in Chemistry and I cannot ever recall the phrase Chemical Reagent until yesterday, however I do have a grasp of the way in which departmental heads work in a range of settings. It is well known that Boris and Matt have both got COVID-19 and indeed while they are both still capable of phone calls and video calls to people all over the UK and the rest of the world despite their illness, their priorities are a much bigger picture than the detail of where our testing chemicals must come from. However if they are personally engaging with and even ‘working with companies’ across the world then we are in a real state of chaos. In the first instance it is unlikely that either Johnson or Hancock know much about the chemical requirements – Johnson studied Classics and Hancock studied Economics so neither have any justification to be talking directly to worldwide companies about chemical reagents and in any case they are both supposed to be running our NHS and wider nation issues between them. So whatever the true picture regarding the Chemical Reagents, the rest of the text above for me was very dubious!