Richard Dobbs

Richard Dobbs was a director of the McKinsey Global Institute. He is currently serving as a non-executive director on several boards, but writes in a personal capacity.

Why is the public sector so unproductive?

The government has achieved its promise to halve inflation from last December’s level, borrowing has come in at little under the predictions made in March’s budget, and the Chancellor has felt able to lower taxes. But one thing isn’t going well: productivity. Little-noticed figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this week show that

The Omicron variant is now in Britain. Here’s how we beat it

As feared, Covid-19 is not going quietly. The arrival of the Omicron strain in Britain – with cases already identified in  Chelmsford and in Nottingham – is clearly not the news we wanted as we prepare for the Christmas holidays. The Prime Minister will hold a press conference later today, likely to mark a distinct change in

The Covid battle Sajid Javid still has to face

Despite the humiliation of Matt Hancock’s exit, Sajid Javid, the new Health Secretary, might in fact find him a tough act to follow. After an appalling start to our Covid-19 response with missing PPE, high care home deaths, and delays to lockdowns and border controls, under Hancock’s watch the UK is now one of the

Richard Dobbs, Tanya Gold and Rory Sutherland

17 min listen

In this episode, Richard Dobbs reads his piece on why he’s considering giving up his second vaccine for people more in need (00:55); Tanya Gold reports from her Kent road trip in a Ferrari (07:50); and Rory Sutherland on the unexpected joys of lockdown and why we may miss it when it’s gone. (12:45)

Why I’m considering cancelling my second Covid jab

I am considering cancelling my second Covid-19 vaccination. I received my first jab in March, and at the time I happily booked the date for the second one in June, confident that by then we would be continuing to see a fall in infections. But last week the story changed. The B.1.617.2 variant, first identified

If we want herd immunity, we need mass testing

At the start of the pandemic, we talked a lot about herd (or community) immunity. But talking about the journey to herd immunity became toxic as it was variously linked to high infection rates, sacrificing the elderly, and the NHS becoming overwhelmed. The debate on herd immunity was restarted last week by Professor Karl Friston,

How should we tackle vaccine hesitancy?

As Britain celebrates its vaccination success, we’re in danger of missing something important. A great many people have been offered the vaccine, but have turned it down — and we hear very little about them. No. 10 briefings trumpet the numbers vaccinated in the past 24 hours but are silent on the numbers who have

The need for speed: can we outpace Covid?

The Spanish flu pandemic a century ago resulted in around 50 million deaths worldwide. Its second wave was over ten times more deadly than its first. History is repeating, with the global death toll from Covid-19 this second winter already three times that of the first. In the UK, the number of deaths in this

A race against time: can the vaccine outpace the virus?

34 min listen

Coronavirus vaccines are now being distributed across the world, but what are the challenges posed by its delivery? (01:30) Is Boris Johnson the SNP’s greatest weapon? (13:55) And is Prince Harry becoming more and more like his mother? (23:35) With financial columnist Matthew Lynn; former director at the McKinsey Global Institute Richard Dobbs; the UK’s

A race against time: can the vaccine outpace the virus?

The next three months may well prove to be the hardest of the whole pandemic. The new variants of Covid-19 appear to be the wrong type of game-changer. After our national lockdown in March, infection levels started falling because of extreme measures — including closing schools, places of worship and non-essential retail. But the infectiousness

Xi’s world: how Covid has accelerated China’s rise

32 min listen

China has come out on top from this pandemic year – what does this mean for the world? (00:50) Was Test and Trace doomed from the start? (12:35) And what’s with all these Covid excuses? (22:35) With historian Rana Mitter; security expert Nigel Inkster; analyst Richard Dobbs; virologist Elisabetta Groppelli; editor of the Oldie Harry

The fundamental flaws of NHS Test and Trace

The NHS Test, Trace and Isolate programme — which was meant to be one of our main weapons in the fight against a second Covid-19 peak — has not had a good few weeks. First, when schools went back last month, an inevitable rush for tests was not met with sufficient supply. It then emerged

Boris’s Dunkirk moment

It’s hard to deny that Boris Johnson’s government has so far had a ‘bad war’ against the pandemic. Our death toll is high compared with other countries and our economy is in worse shape. We face rising cases, increased hospital admissions and more restrictions. It’s all so bleak; yet that is why now is precisely

Here’s how the Covid nightmare could be over by Christmas

Matt Hancock has announced his ‘Moonshot’ project of achieving population-wide mass testing for Covid-19. He should be congratulated for this shift in strategy. The previous strategy of ‘Test, Trace and Isolate’ relied on people with the virus feeling ill and so taking a test. Those who tested positive would then be called by one of

The case for mass testing

This morning, Matt Hancock claimed on the Today programme that the government is now working as fast as it can on developing a mass testing programme, which is ‘incredibly important’ if we want to ease coronavirus restrictions. The health secretary is right to finally focus on mass testing. So far, the UK’s performance has been

Introducing the Harding-Hancock Efficiency test

We are going to hear a lot about Test, Trace and Isolate (TTI) in coming weeks, as we approach autumn and fears of a second wave of Covid-19 grow. Now we have moved away from national lockdown but do not yet have a vaccine, the test-and-trace system is our main bulwark against a resurgence of