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£37B UK test-and-trace program failed to help curb pandemic, parliament report finds

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The NHS’s flagship Test and Trace program has failed to achieve “its main objective” to cut COVID-19 infection levels in the U.K., despite getting an “eye-watering” sum of £37 billion since May 2020, a report released by the House of Commons’ Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has found.

The scheme “has not achieved its main objective to help break chains of Covid-19 transmission and enable people to return towards a more normal way of life,” the report reads.

“Only 14 percent of 691 million lateral flow tests sent out had results reported,” Meg Hillier, chair of PAC, pointed out during an interview with talkRADIO. “Without the tracing bit, [the program] doesn’t achieve the aims it set out to,” she added.

“Who knows how many took the necessary action based on the results they got, or how many were never used,” she said.

The reliance on consultants was also lambasted in the report, especially as their cost averaged around £1,100 a day per contractor. “The continued reliance on the over-priced consultants who ‘delivered’ this state of affairs will by itself cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds,” Hillier said in a statement.

The program was criticized for failing to reach older people or minorities well. “Only a minority of people experiencing COVID-19 symptoms get a test,” the report reads. “Between 18% and 33% of people who experience COVID-19 symptoms report getting a test. Some groups, such as older people, men, and certain ethnic minorities, are much less likely to request tests.”

The Test and Trace system plays a crucial role in Britain’s “plan A” approach to autumn and winter, as it forces unvaccinated workers to self-isolate if they have been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. At the time of its launch, Boris Johnson claimed the program would be “world-beating”.
 
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