Operation Moonshot: Reaching for the stars or pie in the sky?

The Government is mulling shelling out up to £100 billion for a mass at-home coronavirus testing programme, but experts are cautious about its ability to deliver.

Known as "Operation Moonshot", it could see up to 10 million tests carried out every day from the comfort of people's own homes.

Here's what we know so far.

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Coronavirus impacts Britain
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Coronavirus impacts Britain
A protester (R) gestures to a member of the media (L) as he complains about the wearing of a mask, in Trafalgar Square in London on September 26, 2020, during a 'We Do Not Consent!' mass rally against vaccination and government restrictions designed to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus, including the wearing of masks and taking tests for the virus. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
A student walks past a sign at Murano Street Student Village in Glasgow, where Glasgow University students are being tested at a pop up test centre, Scotland, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. Cities around the U.K. are imposing new coronavirus restrictions as they race to slow the spread of COVID-19, and London could be next. University students in Scotland were asked not to go to bars and restaurants this weekend. (Andrew Milligan/PA via AP)
People take part in a 'We Do Not Consent' rally at Trafalgar Square, organised by Stop New Normal, to protest against coronavirus restrictions, in London, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. (Stefan Rousseau/PA via AP)
People leave bars and restaturants at closing time in Soho, London, the day after pubs and restaurants were subject to a 10pm curfew to combat the rise in coronavirus cases in England. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)
People leave bars and restaturants at closing time in Soho, London, the day after pubs and restaurants were subject to a 10pm curfew to combat the rise in coronavirus cases in England. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)
Campaigners outside the Department of Health and Social Care office in London protesting over Serco's handling of the test, track and trace system. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
Commuters in a tube station at 08:05 in central London, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a range of new restrictions to combat the rise in coronavirus cases in England. (Photo by Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 25: A sign limiting three items per customer is displayed in a supermarket on September 25, 2020 in Manchester, England. Tesco and Morrisons supermarkets are the first to initiate rations on essential items amid fears of panic buying with the prospect of a second Covid-19 full lockdown. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A protester takes part in a demonstration outside the Department of Health and Social Care office in London, over the private company Serco's handling of the British government's coronavirus test, track and trace system, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. The protesters were on Friday calling for the test, track and trace system to be carried out by local public health teams who work closely with Britain's National Health Service. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A piece of artwork by artist Luke Jerram called 'In Memoriam', is installed on Sandbanks beach as part of the Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival 2020. Created from over 100 bedsheets, and arranged in the form of a medicial red cross, the sea of flags offers a place for the public to visit to remember those lost during the coronavirus pandemic and pay tribute to the NHS staff and volunteers. (Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 25: A general view of Carnaby Street in Soho, in central London on September 24, 2020, on the first day of the new earlier closing times for pubs and bars in England and Wales, introduced to combat the spread of the coronavirus. - Britain has tightened restrictions to stem a surge of coronavirus cases, ordering pubs to close early and advising people to go back to working from home to prevent a second national lockdown. (Photo by Kate Green/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A student from the University of Glasgow administers a self test for Covid-19 at a pop-up testing centre at the Murano Street Student Village complex in Glasgow, Scotland on September 24, 2020, as more than 120 students test positive for the novel coronavirus Covid-19. - An outbreak of Covid-19 has led to 124 students testing positive at Glasgow University, with the university sayig that 600 people were self-isolating. (Photo by Andy Buchanan / AFP) (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)
A couple stop on the comedy floor in front of Blackpool Tower during the illuminations. All pubs, bars, restaurants in England must have a 10pm closing time from Thursday, to help curb the spread of coronavirus. (Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images)
A shopper wears a mask as she exits a shop in Windsor, England, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson appealed Tuesday for resolve and a "spirit of togetherness" through the winter as he unveiled new restrictions on everyday life to suppress a dramatic spike in coronavirus cases. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Commuters disembark a London Underground train, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a range of new restrictions to combat the rise in coronavirus cases in England. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)
Shoppers in the shadow of Windsor Castle in Windsor, England, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson appealed Tuesday for resolve and a "spirit of togetherness" through the winter as he unveiled new restrictions on everyday life to suppress a dramatic spike in coronavirus cases. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
People dine at a restaurant in London, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020, after Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a range of new restrictions to combat the rise in coronavirus cases in England. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
A man sits in an empty cafe in London, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020, after Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a range of new restrictions to combat the rise in coronavirus cases in England. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
The changing face of the high street. Noticeon on a billboard encouraging customers, while a person, wearing a face covering, browses inside a shop in Glasgow city centre, some six months on from the evening of March 23 when Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced nationwide restrictions.
Customers at the Westminster Arms pub in London watch Prime Minister Boris Johnson address the nation regarding new coronavirus restrictions, including office staff working from home, the wider use of face masks and a 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants.
Commuters at Waterloo station in London, Wednesday Sept. 23, 2020. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson appealed Tuesday for resolve and a “spirit of togetherness” through the winter as he unveiled new restrictions on everyday life to suppress a dramatic spike in coronavirus cases. (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)
A man wears a face mask in Leicester Square, as people walk past, in London, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020. Britain's Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has announced that pubs and restaurants closing at 10pm, due to the spike of cases of coronavirus across the United Kingdom. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
A woman passes a rainbow painted on the pavement outside Waterloo Station, in central London, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a range of new restrictions to combat the rise in coronavirus cases in England. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)
Police officers patrol Old Compton Street in Soho, London, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that from Thursday pubs and restaurants will be subject to a 10pm curfew to combat the rise in coronavirus cases in England. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
A staff member looks at a wall of faces of descendants related to the pilgrims of the Mayflower, which is part of the Mayflower 400: Legend and Legacy exhibition, during a press preview for the UK's largest ever commemorative exhibition on the Mayflower, with works on loan from both Smithsonian and Peabody institutes in America, at The Box museum in Plymouth, Devon, England, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020. The museum, which opens to the public on September 29, is the largest multi-disciplinary arts and heritage museum space opening anywhere in the UK in 2020. (Andrew Matthews/PA via AP)
A staff member of a toy store wears a face mask as she invites customers to enter the store, in London, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has slammed the brakes on the country's return to offices, saying people should work from home if possible to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Johnson on Tuesday announced a package of new restrictions, including a requirement for pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues in England to close between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
PLYMOUTH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 22: Visitors look around the exhibits at The Box on September 22, 2020 in Plymouth, England. The Box Museum, a brand new multi-disciplinary arts and heritage space, will finally open on 29th September, four months later than planned due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks back into Downing Street after attending a cabinet meeting at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020. Johnson plans to announce new restrictions on social interactions Tuesday as the government tries to slow the spread of COVID-19 before it spirals out of control. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
People sit outside the White Lion pub in London, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has slammed the brakes on the country's return to offices, saying people should work from home if possible to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Johnson on Tuesday announced a package of new restrictions, including a requirement for pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues in England to close between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Britain's Labour leader Keir Starmer delivers his keynote speech, during the party's online conference from the Danum Gallery, Library and Museum in Doncaster, England, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020. Starmer will address party members in his first party conference since becoming leader in the wake of its worst defeat in a general election since 1935. (Stefan Rousseau/Pool Photo via AP)
PLYMOUTH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 22: Visitor looks at Kehinde Wiley's Narrenshschiff 'Ship of Fools' exhibit at The Box on September 22, 2020 in Plymouth, England. The Box Museum, a brand new multi-disciplinary arts and heritage space, will finally open on 29th September, four months later than planned due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)
A member of the public walks passed coronavirus related signs at the City of Glasgow College in Glasgow . (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 21: Chief Adviser to the Prime Minister, Dominic Cummings arrives at Downing Street on September 21, 2020 in London, England. On Sunday, the country reported 3,899 new Covid-19 cases and 18 additional deaths. The government has suggested new nationwide restrictions would be required to curb a "second wave" of the virus. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
People out in Manchester city centre. The latest Public Health England data shows that 672 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded in the city in the seven days to September 17. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
People out in Manchester city centre. The latest Public Health England data shows that 672 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded in the city in the seven days to September 17. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
The government's chief medical officer Chris Whitty, left, and chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance arrive in Downing Street, London, Monday Sept. 21, 2020. Britain’s top medical advisers have painted a grim picture of exponential growth in illness and death if nothing is done to control the second wave of coronavirus infections, laying the groundwork for the government to announce new restrictions later this week. (Yui Mok /PA via AP)
People dine out in London, Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. Britain's top medical advisers have painted a grim picture of exponential growth in illness and death if nothing is done to control the second wave of coronavirus infections, laying the groundwork for the government to announce new restrictions later this week. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
People react to being photographed as they sit outside on a street closed to traffic to try to reduce the spread of coronavirus so bars and restaurants can continue to stay open, in the Soho area of central London, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. Fresh nationwide lockdown restrictions in England appear to be on the cards soon as the British government targeted more areas Friday in an attempt to suppress a sharp spike in new coronavirus infections. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
People sit outside on a street closed to traffic to try to reduce the spread of coronavirus so bars, cafes and restaurants can continue to stay open, in the Soho area of central London, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. Fresh nationwide lockdown restrictions in England appear to be on the cards soon as the British government targeted more areas Friday in an attempt to suppress a sharp spike in new coronavirus infections. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
KILMARNOCK, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: A groundsman disinfectsthe goal posts ahead of kick off during a Scottish Premiership match between Kilmarnock and Hamilton Academical at The BBSP Stadium, Rugby Park on September 19, 2020, in Kilmarnock, Scotland. (Photo by Alan Harvey/SNS Group via Getty Images)
A general view of Norwich City fans in the stands where up to 1000 spectators are expected to attend the Sky Bet Championship match at Carrow Road, Norwich. (Photo by Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images)
NORWICH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: Norwich City Stadium - Norwich Fans during the Sky Bet Championship match between Norwich City and Preston North End at Carrow Road on September 19, 2020 in Norwich, England. (Photo by David Horton - CameraSport via Getty Images )
A performer on stilts interacts with a member of the public during the annual Bermondsey Street Festival in London, England, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Hicks)
Police officers wearing face masks stand next to a "Resist and Act for Freedom" protest against a mandatory coronavirus vaccine, wearing masks, social distancing and a second lockdown, in Trafalgar Square, London, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 19: Members of StandUpX community who are anti-vaccine and are against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) measures, gathering at Trafalgar Square to stage for a protest, face off with police officers, in London, United Kingdom on September 19, 2020. (Photo by Hasan Esen/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Police talk to demonstrators during an anti-vax protest in London's Trafalgar Square.
Employees wearing face masks or coverings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, pose with artwork entitled "Show me the Monet" by the artist Banksy, during a photocall at Sotheby's auction house in London, on September 18, 2020, ahead of the forthcoming 'Modernites/Contemporary' evening auction set to take place in October. - The artwork is set expected to realise GBP 3-5 million pounds (EUR 3.2 to 5.5 million / USD 3.8 to 6.5 million) during Sotheby's Live Stream auction, which is set to take place on October 21. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION - TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
People eat lunch at tables and benches placed in the roadway adjacent to a suspended parking bay in Golden Square, Soho, London (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: Covid-19 safety measures in place backstage ahead of the Bora Aksu show during LFW September 2020 at The Waldorf London on September 18, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/BFC/Getty Images)
Students and staff queue up outside a mobile coronavirus testing unit for asymptomatic staff and students set up in a car park at the University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, England, Friday Sept. 18, 2020. British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Friday that the country has to “come together” over the coming weeks to get on top of the spike, that he noted is leading to a doubling in the number of people being hospitalized with the virus every seven to eight days. (Andrew Matthews/PA via AP)
A student help point is set up behind a screen at UCL (University College London) in London, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. In the UK, most universities do not begin their fall terms until late September or early October, and are readying big changes. At University College London, only a quarter of the buildings will be occupied at one time. Teaching spaces will incorporate social distancing and everyone must wear face-masks. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Kitty Ritchie has her QR code scanned on entry as she demonstrates how to take a coronavirus test at a new walk-through testing centre which will open today at Glasgow Caledonian UniversityÕs ARC sports centre, in central Glasgow. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
Student Emily Gittings, 19, has her temperature taken before heading into a mobile coronavirus testing unit for asymptomatic staff and students set up in a car park at the University of Portsmouth. (Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images)
A performance during the press preview of One Night Records, the UK's first socially-distanced immersive live music venue event at London Bridge, in London.
A performance during the press preview of One Night Records, the UK's first socially-distanced immersive live music venue event at London Bridge, in London.
SOUTHEND-ON-SEA, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 17: People queue for a test at a walk in Covid-19 testing facility on September 17, 2020 in Southend on Sea, England. The Department Of Health has appealed to Britain's biomedical sector for 400 further laboratory technicians as the nation's return to school increases demand for Covid-19 tests. (Photo by John Keeble/Getty Images)
A man wearing a face covering due to the COVID-19 pandemic, waks past a sign outside a novel coronavirus walk-in testing centre in East Ham in east London, on September 17, 2020. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday he could close pubs earlier to "stop the second hump" of coronavirus cases, comparing the country's trajectory of resurgent transmission to a camel's profile. But the prime minister has faced stinging criticism this week over the failure to achieve the "world-beating" testing and tracing system he promised by the summer. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
Musicians perform a staged funeral for the "death" of live music, during a socially-distanced photocall performance for One Night Records' forthcoming 'Lockdown Town' production, on the banks of the River Thames in London on September 16, 2020. - One Night Records' is set to open an immersive live music experience called 'Lockdown Town', near London Bridge in London on October 2, 2020. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
Musicians perform a staged funeral for the "death" of live music, during a socially-distanced photocall performance for One Night Records' forthcoming 'Lockdown Town' production, on the banks of the River Thames in London on September 16, 2020. - One Night Records' is set to open an immersive live music experience called 'Lockdown Town', near London Bridge in London on October 2, 2020. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
In this handout photo provided by UK Parliament, Shadow First Secretary Angela Rayner, speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons in London, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020. U.K. lawmakers have criticized the government’s handling of the COVID-19 testing crisis for a second day as opposition leaders say Prime Minister Boris Johnson lacked a cohesive plan to tackle the virus as the country faces a second wave in the pandemic. (Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament via AP)
A view of sign directing people to a walk-in coronavirus testing centre on Marlborough Road in Southampton, England, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020. The British government plans to ration coronavirus testing, giving priority to health workers and care home staff after widespread reports that people throughout the country were unable to schedule tests. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday will face questions about his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the House of Commons and before a key committee amid the outcry over the shortage of testing. (Andrew Matthews/PA via AP)
Ross Pilkington, a Technician in the National Centre for Motorsport Engineering at the University of Bolton, sits in a communal workspace with socially distanced seating and perspex screens on tables to help to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, before students return to campus next week, in Bolton, northern England on September 16, 2020. - The University of Bolton has introduced numerous Covid-safety measures across its campus including: airport-style temperature scanners at the entrance to buildings, socially distanced seating in study area and classrooms, perspex screens and visors for lecturers, a bicycle loan scheme for students, one-way routes throughout campus buildings and additional online resources for student learning. Hundreds of thousands of students across the UK are due to begin a new academic year at universities in the coming weeks. (Photo by OLI SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Neil Berry, a Facilities Manager at the University of Bolton, inspects a communal workspace with socially distanced seating and perspex screens on tables to help to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, before students return to campus next week, in Bolton, northern England on September 16, 2020. - The University of Bolton has introduced numerous Covid-safety measures across its campus including: airport-style temperature scanners at the entrance to buildings, socially distanced seating in study area and classrooms, perspex screens and visors for lecturers, a bicycle loan scheme for students, one-way routes throughout campus buildings and additional online resources for student learning. Hundreds of thousands of students across the UK are due to begin a new academic year at universities in the coming weeks. (Photo by OLI SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Fire and Light Choreographer Penella Bee from Bee-Enchanted practices her routine on Seaburn beach in Sunderland early this morning. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)
Fire and Light Choreographer Penella Bee from Bee-Enchanted practices her routine on Seaburn beach in Sunderland early this morning. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)
Hertfordshire Police officers arrest an environmental activist from HS2 Rebellion who had been locked to another activist in the road using a lock-on arm tube to block a gate providing access to a site for the Chiltern Tunnel on the route of the HS2 high-speed rail link on 14 September 2020 in West Hyde, United Kingdom. Anti-HS2 activists blocked two gates to the same Southern Portal works site for the controversial £106bn rail line, one for over six hours and another for over twelve hours. (photo by Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)
Hertfordshire Police officers arrest an environmental activist from HS2 Rebellion who had been locked to another activist in the road using a lock-on arm tube to block a gate providing access to a site for the Chiltern Tunnel on the route of the HS2 high-speed rail link on 14 September 2020 in West Hyde, United Kingdom. Anti-HS2 activists blocked two gates to the same Southern Portal works site for the controversial £106bn rail line, one for over six hours and another for over twelve hours. (photo by Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)
A commuter walks across London Bridge toward the City of London on September 15, 2020. - Britain's unemployment rate jumped above four percent in July on economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, official data showed today. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
A man walks past a sign displaying Public Safety Advice about COVID-19 in Bolton town centre, northwest England on September 15, 2020. - The UK government recently imposed tougher coronavirus restrictions in northwest England, as it voiced fears about rising infection rates among younger people. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
NEWPORT, WALES, - SEPTEMBER 14: A general view of pedestrians walking through the city centre in view of the social distancing signs on on September 14, 2020 in Newport, United Kingdom. (Photo by Huw Fairclough/Getty Images)
Members of the audience arrive to take their socially distanced seats in the auditorium for a performance by German baritone Christian Gerhaher and German pianist Gerold Huber at Wigmore Hall in London on September 13, 2020, in the first of a season of 100 concerts between now and Christmas to be attended by a limited, socially distanced audience to prevent spread of the covid-19 coronavirus. - Wigmore Hall becomes the first major UK music venue to welcome back live audiences for a full autumn season. The Hall will only have 120 people in this first audience (20% capacity), but it is a landmark moment for classical music in the UK as covid-19 restrictions continue. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 13: Members of the public relaxing in Regents Park on September 13, 2020 in London, England. Concerned by rising cases of Covid-19, the British government will start enforcing a six-person limit on indoor and outdoor social gatherings in England, although numerous exemptions exist for workplaces, schools, religious functions, and organised sport. (Photo by Jo Hale/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - 13 SEPTEMBER 2020: A waitress wipes a table outside a restuarant on Northcote Road on September 13, 2020 in South West London, England. Concerned by rising cases of Covid-19, the British government will start enforcing a six-person limit on indoor and outdoor social gatherings in England, although numerous exemptions exist for workplaces, schools, religious functions, and organised sport. (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 12: People are seen dancing to a busker in Leicester Square on September 12, 2020 in London, England. From Monday, September 14, groups of more than six will be banned from meeting under new coronavirus restrictions. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 12: People are seen dancing in Soho on September 12, 2020 in London, England. From Monday, September 14, groups of more than six will be banned from meeting under new coronavirus restrictions. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
A worker at a Covid-19 driving in testing centre at Temple Green Park and Ride in Leeds, West Yorkshire, where tougher lockdown measures may be introduced locally after a rise in coronavirus infections. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
CARDIFF, WALES - SEPTEMBER 10: A man has his temperature checked before entering the Coyote Ugly bar on St. Mary's Street on September 10, 2020 in Cardiff, Wales. In a tightening of lockdown rules intended to curb a rise in coronavirus cases the First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford has announced people in Wales must wear face mask in shops and other indoor public spaces from Monday. Indoor meetings of more than six from an extended household will be illegal from Monday. The rule will not apply to children under 11 and up to 30 people from different homes can still meet outside. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
Young people outside the Blue Posts pub in Berwick Street, Soho, London. People in England will be banned from meeting in groups of more than six from Monday as ministers try to tackle the rising number of coronavirus cases across the UK. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon views the new Covid - 19 track and trace app on a phone at the Scottish Parliament on September 10, 2020 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Scotland's new contact tracing app to help combat the spread of coronavirus has gone live, the downloaded is free for smart phones from Apple's App Store or Google Play. The Protect Scotland app will alert people when they have been in close contact with someone who later tests positive. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
PORTH, WALES - SEPTEMBER 10: A healthcare worker looks on at a temporary coronavirus testing centre at Oldway House on September 10, 2020 in Porth, Wales. A temporary walk-in testing centre has opened in Porth following a cluster of cases in the lower Rhondda area. There are fears that a local lockdown might be introduced should numbers continue to rise. The first local lockdown in Wales was brought in earlier this week in the county of Caerphilly. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
FACES PIXELATED BY PA PICTURE DESK A test sample being taken at a Covid-19 driving in testing centre at Temple Green Park and Ride in Leeds, West Yorkshire, where tougher lockdown measures may be introduced locally after a rise in coronavirus infections. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
A notice on a fence at the Boats2020 show in Southampton following the cancellation of the event which was due to begin on Friday. Organisers were forced to cancel at the last minute due to growing concerns over the increase in the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Protesters with placards gather outside the Scottish Parliament entrance to demonstrate against a secondary lockdown, coronavirus face covering rules and the search for a virus on September 10, 2020 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The group, known as Saving Scotland, said it is "time to stand up together" and fight "for the freedom to choose" and listen to real scientific evidence in regard to the health of the Scottish people. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell - Pool/Getty Images)
People wave from the Round Tower as the British Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Portsmouth Naval Base as it sets sail for flight trials, Wednesday Sept. 9, 2020. The departure comes following two days of delays caused by a small number of crew members testing positive for the coronavirus. (Andrew Matthews/PA via AP)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a virtual press conference at Downing Street, London, following the announcement that the legal limit on social gatherings is set to be reduced from 30 people to six. The change in the law in England will come into force on Monday as the Government seeks to curb the rise in coronavirus cases.
MILTON KEYNES, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Patron of Medical Detection Dogs, wears a visor during a visit to the charity’s training centre where trials are currently underway to determine whether dogs can act as a diagnostic tool of COVID-19 on September 09, 2020 in Milton Keynes, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
CAERPHILLY, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 08: A sign in the town centre encouraging social distancing on September 08, 2020 in Caerphilly, United Kingdom. The county borough of Caerphilly in South Wales is to be placed under a local lockdown from 18:00 BST on Tuesday, following a rapid rise in cases of coronavirus, in the first local lockdown in Wales. People will not be able to leave the borough without good reason, everyone will be required to wear face masks in shops and seeing others within extended households indoors will be banned. The Welsh government have said that with 55.4 cases per 100,000 population Caerphilly county has the highest rate in Wales and one of the highest in the UK. (Photo by Polly Thomas/Getty Images)
People wear face masks on public transport through Caerphilly centre as the county borough in south Wales is to be placed under a local lockdown following a "significant rise" in coronavirus cases. People will not be allowed to enter or leave the area without a reasonable excuse when the restrictions come into force from 6pm on Tuesday, the Welsh Government said. (Photo by Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images)
Pedestrians pass an electronic board urging people to observe coronavirus guidance and seek a test if they have Covid-19 symptoms in Bolton, northwest England on September 9, 2020, as local lockdown restrictions are put in place due to a spike in cases of the novel coronavirus in the town. - The UK government, which controls health policy in England, imposed tougher restrictions on Bolton, near the northwest city of Manchester, after a "very significant rise" in cases. Bolton was found to have 120 cases per 100,000 people -- the highest in the country. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Students observe social distancing as they take part in a dance session as classes resume at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts drama school in Peckham, south London, following its closure due to coronavirus. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)
Students observe social distancing as they take part in a dance session as classes resume at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts drama school following its closure due to coronavirus, in Peckham, south London, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)
CAERPHILLY, WALES - SEPTEMBER 08: A COVID-19 warning sign as people jog past Caerphilly Castle on September 8, 2020 in Caerphilly, Wales. The county borough of Caerphilly in South Wales is to be placed under a local lockdown from 18:00 BST Tuesday, following a rapid rise in cases of coronavirus in the first local lockdown in Wales. People will not be able to leave the borough without good reason and face masks will be required by everyone aged over 11 in shops. Seeing others within extended households indoors will also be banned. The Welsh government have said that with 55.4 cases per 100,000 population, Caerphilly county has the highest rate in Wales and one of the highest in the UK. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
One way systems are in place around shops in Caerphilly centre as the county borough is to be placed under a local lockdown following a "significant rise" in coronavirus cases, in Caerphilly, South Wales, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. On Tuesday evening, a local lockdown comes into force in the Welsh district of Caerphilly following a spike in cases. Under the new restrictions, people will not be allowed to enter or leave the area without a reasonable excuse. Everyone over the age of 11 will also be required to wear face coverings in shops — the first time this will be mandatory in Wales. Meetings with other people indoors and extended households will not be allowed, while overnight stays have also been banned. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)
Shoppers wear PPE inside food stores in Caerphilly centre as the county borough in south Wales is to be placed under a local lockdown following a "significant rise" in coronavirus cases. People will not be allowed to enter or leave the area without a reasonable excuse when the restrictions come into force from 6pm on Tuesday, the Welsh Government said. (Photo by Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images)
CAERPHILLY, WALES - SEPTEMBER 08: A man wears a face mask while waiting for a bus on September 8, 2020 in Caerphilly, Wales. The county borough of Caerphilly in South Wales is to be placed under a local lockdown from 18:00 BST Tuesday, following a rapid rise in cases of coronavirus in the first local lockdown in Wales. People will not be able to leave the borough without good reason and face masks will be required by everyone aged over 11 in shops. Seeing others within extended households indoors will also be banned. The Welsh government have said that with 55.4 cases per 100,000 population, Caerphilly county has the highest rate in Wales and one of the highest in the UK. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 07, 2020: British fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood addresses supporters of Julian Assange protesting outside the Old Bailey on the first day of the hearing on the US extradition request of the WikiLeaks founder over 18 charges including conspiracy with Chelsea Manning in obtaining and publishing the Iraq War Logs, on 07 September, 2020 in London, England. Julian Assange is due to appear in court today as the extradition hearing, expected to last three weeks, resumes after a long delay due to coronavirus pandemic.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Commuters at Leeds railway station. Train services will be ramped up from today as schools in England and Wales reopen and workers are encouraged to return to offices. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
Costumed members of climate change activist movement Extinction Rebellion, protesting against ecological destruction of the world's oceans, perform in Parliament Square in London, England, on September 6, 2020. The group launched a new series of demonstrations in the city on Monday, with more scheduled for the week ahead, after a hiatus in its protest actions during the height of the coronavirus crisis. (Photo by David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Activists of international climate action group Extinction Rebellion, stage a march from Parliament Square to the Brazilian Embassy, in London, UK, on September 5, 2020 to bring awarness to destruction of the Amazon Rainforest. (Photo by Lucy North/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Protesters outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, organised by Scotland Against Lockdown, who oppose mandatory wearing of facemasks, the Scottish & U.K Governments Coronavirus Act and lockdown. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
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– How will Operation Moonshot work?

Ministers and health officials are banking on a test that does not need to be processed in a lab to be developed, so that users get their results in a matter of minutes rather than days.

Similar to a pregnancy test, the saliva test would eliminate the need for people to travel – sometimes long distances – to testing centres before returning home to wait for the result.

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

-Does such a test exist?

Scientists have warned that, as yet, a reliable at-home test has yet to be developed – meaning that it will be some time before we can rely on it to help us return to normal.

Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said on Thursday: "There are prototypes which look as though they have some effect, but they've got to be tested properly.

"We would be completely wrong to assume this is a slam dunk that can definitely happen."

– How much will it cost?

Operation Moonshot will have a price tag of almost as much as NHS England's £114 billion budget in 2018/19, as set out in documents seen by the British Medical Journal.

Last week the Government pledged £500 million for a new community-wide repeat testing trial in Salford, Greater Manchester, as part of pilot scheme for a no-swab saliva test.

A number of residents will be invited for a weekly test, with up to 250 carried out each day, while existing trials of tests in Southampton and other parts of Hampshire will also be expanded.

– What is the Government hoping for?

The aim of the tests is to start fully reopening society and getting the economy up and running even before a vaccine has been developed.

After imposing stricter social distancing measures limiting groups meeting indoors or outdoors to just six people, with the threat of a fine for non-compliance, the Government is in dire need of some good news.

Previewing the plans, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the programme would allow Covid-negative people to "behave in a more normal way in the knowledge they can't infect anyone else with the virus".

– What do the experts say?

If all goes to plan, it could open up the economy, potentially spelling the end to everything from quarantine for holidaymakers to spectator bans at sports events.

But leading statistician Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter said the "huge danger" was that there could be a "very large number of false positives".

That would result in large numbers of people self-isolating unnecessarily, which could actually end up damaging the economy.

– What are the problems with the current testing programme?

There have been numerous reports of people being asked to travel long distances to their nearest testing centre, only to discover that they do not have an appointment.

One man, from Maidstone, Kent, who asked not to be named, revealed to the PA news agency that he was asked to make a 400-mile round trip for a test, only for his results to then be lost.

On Wednesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock also blamed the shortage of testing slots on symptom-free people attending for a test, despite the fact people can be symptom-free and still spread the virus.

– When will this new 'Moonshot' testing be available?

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps was sent out to defend the plans on Thursday morning, but he declined to give a timeframe.

He was realistic about the fact that it could be a long time before a reliable test is ready, saying: "This is technology that, to be perfectly blunt, requires further development – there isn't a certified test in the world that does this but there are people that are working on prototypes."

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