The First Minister and Health Minister of Wales have repeatedly ignored offers of vital COVID-19 antibody testing kits, it has been claimed.
Cardiff-based Richard Jones, who coordinates sales for Mirage Distribution Limited, says he first emailed the First Minister, Mark Drakeford and Health Minister, Vaughan Gething on March 19th offering to supply the Welsh Government 10,000 tests within seven days, but ITV News has been told that his company's offer to sell the kits were ignored.
In a follow-up email sent on March 24 and seen by ITV Wales, Mr Jones said: "Our company can help you. I'm baffled why you haven't shown any interest. Not even to acknowledge my email, which is very disappointing."
Mr Jones added: "If you had placed an order with Mirage Distribution Ltd last week you would have had some antibodies testing kits delivered to you [by the] end of this week, so you could have tested at least 10,000 more people and through April/May if you wanted you could have received up to another 500,000."
Mr Jones said: "More delays will cost innocent lives and this can be prevented. While I'm still waiting for a response from you. The Health Minister. The Deputy Health minister. All three of you have a duty of care to the public of Wales. They need answers. What I don't understand is we are a UK company but you seem to ignore us. I have had enquires from US agencies and other European countries about buying this product to test their front line staff, what about our front line staff don't they matter to you Sir."
On the 18th of March, the day before Mr Jones emailed the Welsh Government, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said in a daily briefing that having an antibody test would be a'game changer'.
The Prime Minister said: "The great thing about having a test to see whether you’ve had it enough, is suddenly a green light goes on above your head and you can go back to work safe and confident in the knowledge that you are most unlikely to get it again."
The Prime Minister added: "So for an economic point of view, from a social point of view, it really could be a game-changer."
But, some health professionals have argued that the testing kits are not always effective.
In response to this story, Dr Catherine Moore from Public Health Wales said, "Did you see the news from Spain about the use of these types of serology kits? 30% detection rate. These tests have to be applied only after rigorous validation so we’re happy they work. They are especially useless in the acute phase of illness."
When asked previously about this issue, the Welsh Government said they were working with Public Health Wales to identify suppliers.
Public Health Wales are working with us to identify test suppliers that meet the technical requirements, including test accuracy and safety. We are currently focussing our testing capacity on hospital in-patients and those frontline health staff who are isolating at home, so we can get them back to work quickly. As our capacity ramps up we would expect to extend testing to social care and other aspects of public service delivery, as well as into the community.