Contact tracing

The UK isn’t taking the risk of contact tracing fraud seriously

Experts have a get-out clause of which politicians can only dream when they are speaking from the podium at press briefings. While ministers are expected to be able to answer questions on any matter, there and then, and have details at their fingertips, advisors can escape most tricky questions with a simple few words: that’s outside my area of expertise. That makes it all the more baffling that when asked by journalists about the risk of fraudsters exploiting the government’s new track and trace system, not one, but two deputy chief medical officers decided to comment and belittle the risks involved. Deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries was particularly sanguine.

Britain’s contact tracing conundrum

If there is hope, it lies in contact tracing. The countries that have successfully managed Covid-19 outbreaks and reopened without second peaks (at least so far) have done so through extensive track and trace infrastructure to prevent recurring outbreaks, sometimes after instituting general lockdown. The UK plan is no different: for weeks, ministers have been talking up efforts to build a UK infrastructure to handle the difficult task of rapidly testing every suspected case of Covid-19, and then quickly contacting everyone they may have recently come into contact with, and testing them too. The effects of these efforts where they work can be dramatic: South Korea had a recent outbreak