covid test UK
© REUTERS/Phil Noble/File PhotoA drive-through testing centre in Bolton, Britain, September 22, 2020.
Serco (SRP.L) and Mitie (MTO.L) have won new testing contracts collectively worth up to 687 million pounds ($956.1 million) to continue supporting Britain's much-criticised COVID-19 test-and-trace programme, the groups said separately on Monday.

The scheme, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged would be world-beating when he launched it with a 22 billion pound budget in May 2020, has repeatedly missed targets, with the opposition Labour Party criticising the government's use of private firms.

Comment: It didn't just 'miss targets', a damning report revealed that the Track and Trace program completely failed to have any discernible benefit; this was one of the most expensive programs the UK had ever invested in. This, on top of multi-million pound Nightingale hospitals that were little used and provably dodgy deals given to unqualified companies that just happened to be run by those with friends in government: UK wasted BILLIONS during lockdown by awarding gov contracts to unqualified 'associates'

Serco's contract, which is worth up to 322 million pounds, covers services such as site operations, cleaning and security at around 20% of test sites in England and Northern Ireland, down from the roughly 25% of sites covered by its previous deal.

Mitie's deal, worth up to 365 million pounds, covers the management of around 28% of testing sites across England, Scotland and Wales, up from about 23% of sites in its former contract.

The two agreements are focused on testing only but form part of the test-and-trace scheme, which oversees testing of people who think they have COVID-19, and then tracing contacts of those who test positive to require them to isolate.

Comment: Who 'think' they have Covid, because the vast majority would, otherwise, never even know they had it. That's hardly the definition of a 'deadly pandemic'.

While Serco also holds contracts for contact tracing, Mitie only looks after testing sites.

Parliament's spending watchdog said on Friday the scheme had improved but was still missing targets, and the results of millions of tests to find asymptomatic cases had not been reported.

Britain has the highest COVID-19 death toll in Europe and is seeing a surge in cases driven by the new Delta variant of the virus, although an advanced vaccination campaign has kept hospitalisations and deaths far below previous infection waves.

Comment: Britain has been mislabeling deaths as Covid since the beginning of this manufactured crisis. The lockdown restrictions actually resulted in higher mortality, and we're only just beginning to see the impact. Otherwise, statistics show that England's mortality rate is actually lower than previous years: Death rate in England is lowest since records began 20 years ago

Serco earlier this month raised its 2021 profit forecast in part thanks to its work on COVID-19 services. It did not change its forecast on Monday following the contract win.

"We expect that the margin is slightly below group average, but in line with expectations," Liberum analysts said on Serco.

Shares in Serco were up 0.7%, while Mitie was down 2.5%.