How the UK failed to stop second Covid wave: investigator explains to James O'Brien

26 November 2020, 13:39 | Updated: 26 November 2020, 16:31

By Fiona Jones

James O'Brien speaks to Reuters journalist Stephen Grey after his comprehensive investigation revealed how Britain failed to stop the second wave of coronavirus.

Over 50,000 people have now died with Covid-19, one of the highest tolls in the world - James asked Mr Grey what has gone wrong.

"You've got to start back in the early summer when we came out of the first wave Boris Johnson said that he was creating this huge and expensive Test and Trace system which he believed would prevent a second spike this winter," Mr Grey told James.

"It's never it could have been the silver bullet to solve everything but they placed huge dependence on this and implied that this would stop us coming back and into the situation we are now, and also prevent another lockdown, and both of those things haven't happened.

"The epic confidence put in this system justified opening things up, with subsidising people to go to pubs."

James pointed out the confidence was born in part by successful tracing systems being set up in other countries, to which Mr Grey agreed, as this was done "very well" in Asia and "quite well" in Germany.

"It relies on actually reaching the contacts of who you might have been in touch with and it has been almost an epic failure," Mr Grey said.

The Test and Trace system, branded by the investigation as central to the UK's downfall, failed on three accounts, the first of which that contacts are reached "very slowly".

"It's extraordinarily ineffective to the point that public health directors I speak to don't even regard it as a tracing service because they're not going in large part to peoples' contacts outside their houses," he said, as the second point.

Thirdly is the fact the Government have lost credibility over it and the public "don't trust the system so they're not telling these contact tracers who these contacts are," Mr Grey told James.

"One wonders if it has any effect whatsoever at in controlling the virus."

James asked whether Britain would be worse off if there was no Test and Trace system at all.

"I'm not sure it would have been any different," replied Mr Grey.