Why is "world-beating" Test & Trace system only reaching 50%, Tom Swarbrick asks Minister

4 August 2020, 09:19

By Adrian Sherling

The UK's coronavirus Test & Trace system is currently only reaching 50% of contacts. It's not exactly the world-beating system we were promised, Tom Swarbrick tells Minister Simon Clarke.

Ccientists from UCL and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that the NHS Test and Trace programme needs to be scaled up in order to reopen schools safely.

The authors found that "with increased levels of testing... and effective contact tracing and isolation, an epidemic rebound might be prevented".

According to the study published in The Lancet, a worst-case scenario coronavirus second wave could be 2.3 times higher than the first.

Tom Swarbrick put that to the Local Government Minster, telling him: "Only 50% of contacts are being traced. Do you think that's a high enough figure?"

Mr Clarke responded: "We always work to make sure that Test & Trace improves...

But Tom countered: "It's a lot to improve. Only 50% of all contacts?

"It's not robust or world-beating, is it Minister?"

Tom Swarbrick challenged Minister Simon Clarke over Test & Trace
Tom Swarbrick challenged Minister Simon Clarke over Test & Trace. Picture: LBC

Mr Clarke insisted: "Our data shows that over 80% of people who test positive are contacted. And of them, over 75% of their close contacts are reached and told to self-isolate by the system.

"We recognise that this is a system which has to be as good as it possibly can be."

Watch his interview at the top of the page.