We wouldn’t take crazy risks with everybody’s life unless we had a proper plan. Would we?

First published in May 2020.

So let me get this straight:

We have “world-beating” Test and Trace. We were hoping they’d focus on curing us, but they went for beating instead. Obvs.

But on most days since we claimed 100,000 tests in a day (which was a lie) only around 70,000 tests have been done. And they’re counting each person tested as 2 distinct tests: one for the nose, one for the throat.

So when they say 70,000 tests done, they mean 35,000 people tested.

At this rate is will take nearly 2,000 days to test everyone in Britain once. That’s not far off 6 years.

But we don’t need to test everyone.

We can beat the disease if we trace people who come into contact with someone infected, and then isolate them.

But our tracing app isn’t ready. And the isolation is voluntary, and can be ignored if you have kids. We just proved that.

And the project lead (married to a Tory MP, natch) says it won’t be ready by the deadline.

And when it is ready, it only works if millions use it. But to use it, you have to trust the government with your data.

But the government is essentially run by an unelected, unsackable vandal, who was found in contempt of Parliament because he refused to be questioned about his role in the Cambridge Analytica data theft and misuse scandal.

So not many people trust the app.

But another app was available, free.

And it was built by the guys who actually made your phone, so they know what they’re doing.

But that one didn’t collect mountains of personal data and share it with the people who literally broke data law on a massive scale. And it didn’t have a policy that said all data could be obtained and used for – and I’m not joking here – 20 years. And shared with a private company.

So we had to pay an Tory MP’s wife to do our own. At a cost of £3.9m. Which is the biggest spend on a contact app anywhere in the world. And the Google-Apple API is free.

And not just any Tory MP’s wife, but one at the centre of a previous massive data screw-up.

Executive Chair of NHS Test and Trace, Baroness Dido Harding. / Flickr - Number 10

And sure, most app developers (and I am one, so shut up) know the app used successfully all over the world simply uses a phone’s existing functions. Almost nothing new needed to be developed. So most experts agree a good app for the UK could be built by a team of 15 good people in about 2 weeks.

It’s now 5 months since the WHO said contact tracing was vital and urgent. Check my maths, but I think that’s more than 2 weeks.

Anyway, I’m sure it’ll be ready soon. And trustworthy.

But until then, it’s ok, because we just have to follow the rules.

But the rules were broken by the same unelected, unsackable guy I mentioned before. So … f**k the rules, right?

But possibly none of that matters, because we’ll just manually track everyone you come into contact with.

But the incubation period can be 2 weeks. And in that time you might sit within 2 metres of 1,000 people on public transport.

So we’re going to [deep breath] manually track them all down. You don’t know who they are, but if you fall ill, tell us which train station you’ve been in, and we’ll find everyone who was there.

That’s gonna need a lot of training!

But we didn’t even start employing tracing staff until 2 weeks ago, never mind training them. And they’re being asked to do this at home on their own computers. And the basic infrastructure doesn’t work.

2 weeks training. No resources. Identify and call 1,000 people who were in Leeds train station a fortnight ago, with absolutely no clues whatsoever.

Sounds like a crazy risk.

But we wouldn’t take crazy risks with everybody’s life unless we had a proper plan. Would we?

Hold on, wait what?? Shops and schools are opening, and you now can throw a barbecue?


But you might also stop asking about Dominic Cummings, and that is more important than anything.

We have 65,000 excess deaths, which is officially the second highest deaths-per-capita in the world.

These guys are in charge, and the nation’s faces and palms are about to wear out.🔷

[This piece was originally published in @russincheshire and re-published in PMP Magazine on 29 May 2020, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

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(Cover: Flickr/Number 10. - Health Secretary Matt Hancock holds the daily Covid-19 Press Conference. | 27 May 2020. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)

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