Brits blast coronavirus study after being left waiting for testers who never turn up and missed appointments

BRITS have blasted a long-term study meant to track coronavirus as “incompetent” after being left waiting for testers who never show up.

Thousands signed up for the Office for National Statistics' major long-term study designed to figure out how likely people are to have developed antibodies to the deadly bug.

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But the 12-month study – which has run by clinical research company IQVIA since April this year – has been plagued with administration issues.

The Sun Online can reveal participants have been left waiting for hours for testers who never turn up.

They have then struggled to even contact the research organisation for information in problems that have lasted months.

And it has raised fears for the study, which is being organised to help scientists understand who has been infected with coronavirus – and therefore help the government to know how to manage the pandemic.

Silvia Mangiapelo told the Sun Online she had been contacted about the survey, with the first appointment set for two weeks ago.

But on the day of the appointment it was rescheduled and she was given another date.

The appointment was supposed to be held three days ago but no-one showed up, with Ms Mangiapelo not being called or emailed about the delay.

She said: "I’m not interested anymore because is just a waste of time they are not professional at all even on the phone.

"They replied to my comment on Twitter and apologised but I'm just not interested."

And her experience with the study – which is carried out by the ONS and is being sponsored by the University of Oxford – is just one of dozens uncovered by The Sun Online.

IQVIA is responsible for arranging appointments, carrying out the nose and throat swabs, and taking the blood samples.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has estimated that there were an average of 27,900 new cases per day of Covid-19 in private households in England between October 2 and 8.

This is up from an estimated 17,200 new cases per day for the period from September 25 to October 1.

One woman said she had signed up for the survey at the start of August and was told her first scheduled visit would be September 28.

However no-one turned up.

She said: “I sent them emails but they don't respond, rang so many times that my landline battery went dead.

“You are told we are experiencing high volumes of calls, hold on and we will connect you, then after three times, you’re told to call back tomorrow and this call will be terminated in 30 seconds.”

She added: “It is nothing short of a shambles.

“I signed up to do this after much thought – testing once a week for 5 weeks, then once a month for 11 months and this is not happening.

“I have no idea when my next swab will be, should be next week, but I do not want to go through this whole process again.”

Dylan Neligan also registered for the study, saying it took two weeks to get a call to arrange an appointment with a health worker – but only after he complained after not hearing from anyone.

He explained: “The health worker didn't arrive for the appointment, with no warning whatsoever.

“I have had two appointments now, and I have had to complain to IQVIA about both, as no one arrived.

“This seems like a regular problem, and it can be really frustrating waiting indoors only for no one to even show up.”

Other frustrated respondents have taken to social media to flag concerns, with one saying: “The first appointment they call 5 minutes before to cancel it, second appointment they don’t show up. I haven’t received any calls or emails. Just a waste of time.”

Another added: “Still waiting for someone to contact me for my 3rd swab, should have been last Thursday . No response by phone or email.

“What sort of incompetent set up is this? The government figures must be way off if they are relying IQVIA.”

Many of the complaints are answered on Twitter, being told to direct message the company to flag their complaints.

A DHSC Spokesperson said: "The COVID-19 Infection Survey recently expanded to over 150,000 people, requiring more appointments to gather vital information on the spread of the virus in the general population.

"The ONS and call centre partners are now rapidly increasing capacity to address initial delays experienced by some participants.”

The Sun Online has also contacted IQVIA for comment.


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