'Delete NHS Covid app', says public health professor

23 July 2021, 17:06

By Tim Dodd

Public health professor Allyson Pollock says it would be 'much better' if the public deleted the NHS Covid app and the government instead focused on symptomatic testing and isolation.

The conversation comes as the UK Government releases a list of 16 sectors where 'critical workers' can avoid self-isolation if they are told to quarantine by the NHS Covid app.

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows the number of people with Covid-19 in the UK continues to rise, with an estimated 750,000 people in England having contracted the virus last week.

Speaking with Eddie Mair, Professor Pollock said: "I don't think the R number is very helpful actually and I think we need to look at what's happening in the round.

"The more you test the more cases you're going to find of course, and the government's got a strategy of mass testing, and that combined with the NHS app means you've got quite a lot of irrationality going on with many hundreds of thousands of people having to isolate unnecessarily.

"And that's because the public health strategy is just not fit for purpose at the moment. It would be much better if the government stopped mass testing... and that people deleted the app and focused instead on telling people with symptoms to stay at home and have tests."

Professor Pollock continued: "The benefits of testing casual contacts or even isolating them is very, very minimal. So it's much more likely to be beneficial if direct household contacts isolate."

Eddie asked: "You think the app is counterproductive now?"

Read more: Amber list: What are the new rules for holidays and which countries are on it?

"I don't think it's particularly useful as a measure," Prof Pollock replied.

"Basically we've got a very incoherent health strategy that's been driven by the fact the government has committed to spending billions of pounds on lateral flow tests which are not particularly effective. It's extremely expensive, and as we know, have been doing harms."

Public Health England (PHE) has confirmed today another Covid variant has been identified in the UK, named B.1.621.

So far, 16 cases of the variant have been confirmed across the country, with the majority connected with overseas travel.

Read more: Hundreds of flights to Greece and Spain set for this weekend after amber list rules change

More Eddie Mair

Partygate: Boris Johnson 'probably committed several offences', believes Emily Thornberry

Partygate: Boris Johnson 'probably committed several offences', believes Emily Thornberry

Sir Ed Davey: Tory MPs should 'push out' Boris Johnson if he won't himself go

Sir Ed Davey: Tory MPs should 'push out' Boris Johnson if he won't himself go

Caller's mother 'locked away' for 90th birthday – during PM's party

Caller's mother 'locked away' for 90th birthday – during PM's party

'Who will investigate allegations of blackmail at the heart of Westminister?'

'Who will investigate allegations of blackmail at the heart of Westminister?'

Caller tells LBC he was a Conservative 'up until Boris Johnson took over'

Caller tells LBC he was a Conservative 'up until Boris Johnson took over'

'Aimless, feckless, hopeless': Eddie Mair explores Boris Johnson's writing

'Aimless, feckless, hopeless': Eddie Mair explores Boris Johnson's writing career

Scottish Tory leader: Boris Johnson must resign if he broke Covid rules

Scottish Tory leader: Boris Johnson must resign if he broke Covid rules

Downing Street flat refurb saga looks 'very unhappy' for Boris Johnson, LBC hears

Downing Street flat refurb saga looks 'very unhappy' for Boris Johnson, LBC hears

NHS nurse: 'I used to go into work happy – not anymore'

NHS nurse: 'I used to go into work happy – not anymore'

Eddie Mair raises questions in response to Matt Hancock briefing

Best of 2021: Eddie Mair raises questions in response to Matt Hancock briefing

Best of 2021: 'If you get £300k lobbying, being an MP is the second job'

Best of 2021: 'If you get £200k lobbying, being an MP is the second job'

Christmas on fire: Tree seller says he'll likely 'burn' stock due to fall in shoppers

Christmas on fire: Tree seller says he'll likely 'burn' stock due to fall in shoppers

A caller told Eddie Mair Allegra Stratton has been "thrown under a bus"

Allegra Stratton 'thrown under bus' by 'spineless' Prime Minister, says LBC listener

Mark Drakeford: New mask rules in Welsh schools 'imminent'

Mark Drakeford: Mask mandates in Welsh schools 'imminent'

Eddie Mair caller takes aim at Boris Johnson

'The man is a clown': Eddie Mair caller takes aim at Boris Johnson

Social care system: 'It needs more funds. It needs radical reform'

Social care system: 'It needs more funds. It needs radical reform'