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04th Nov 2020

£347m Covid contract awarded to firm involved in testing failure

Reuben Pinder

As England heads into a second lockdown, a measure taken to buy time and allow a government to get back in control of the virus, a Tory-linked private healthcare company, whose testing kits had to be recalled over the summer due to contamination, have been awarded a new £347 million contract.

The company, Radix, creates testing kits which are supplied to care homes but concerns were raised in the summer when some kits turned out not to be sterile.

Despite this, they have had their contract extended by six months, which means health secretary Matt Hancock has now awarded half a billion pounds of taxpayer’s money to the firm since the pandemic began.

The deal has prompted calls for an inquiry into the government’s £12bn expenditure on attempting to control the pandemic through a botched test and trace system.

According to the Guardian, Tory MP Owen Patterson is paid £100k a year to act as a consultant for Radox and was party to a call between the firm and James Bethell, the health minister responsible for coronavirus testing supplies.

“Legislators must not also be lobbyists,” said a spokesperson for the campaign group Transparency International.

The Green party MP Caroline Lucas said: “We urgently need an independent inquiry into where public money is going as many firms who have benefited seem to have links to the Tory party or individual ministers.

“The lack of transparency around Covid-related contracts is a scandal. At the very least, ministers owe MPs an explanation, and we are still not getting one.”