UK MPs say $ 32 billion test and traceability system failed to curb pandemic | News on the coronavirus pandemic

A $ 32 billion test and traceability system in the UK failed to verify the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, some MPs said on Wednesday, claims that were quickly reprimanded by the government.

A report by the UK Parliament’s all-party Public Accounts Committee said the program failed to meet a key goal of avoiding a national lockdown cycle in England, despite spending £ 23bn.

“Despite the unimaginable resources devoted to this project, Test and Trace cannot indicate a measurable difference in the progression of the pandemic,” said committee chair and opposition Labor MP Meg Hillier.

“The promise on which this huge expense was justified – to avoid another foreclosure – has been broken twice.”

Hillier warned that taxpayers risk being “treated by the government like an ATM” to fund the program, which is administered by the UK’s National Institute for Health Protection, an executive agency of the Department of Health and Human Rights. Social Affairs (DHSC). .

Its committee report noted that the program relied too much on expensive private consultants who cost an average of £ 1,100 ($ 1,529) per day and in some cases over £ 6,600 ($ 9,150).

“We need to see a clear plan and better controlled costs,” Hillier said.

The ‘beating the world’ program fails

Defending the program in the wake of the committee’s report, Transport Minister Grant Shapps said it had helped limit the spread of new variants of COVID-19.

“It would have been a lot worse if we didn’t have a testing and traceability system, which has contacted so many people and stopped the disease from spreading further,” Shapps told Sky News.

Dido Harding, the boss of the program, said the UK has carried out more COVID-19 tests than “any other comparable European country” since the launch of Test and Trace last May.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson then promised that the tracing system would be “global”.

But its limited effect since then has drawn repeated criticism, with opposition politicians calling for it to be led by the state-run National Health Service (NHS).

Last year, science advisers said the program was not significantly reducing the spread of the coronavirus.

England entered a second national lockout in the fall. A third followed in winter and remains in place.

Asked about the effectiveness of the system, Chief Scientific Advisor Patrick Vallance said on Tuesday that the testing system is now good and will take on renewed importance in the coming months.

The committee’s report came days after England eased lockdown measures which began on January 5.

The government hopes to end all lockdowns by the end of June, as it continues with testing and a mass vaccination program; all adults are expected to receive a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of July.

Row of UK-EU vaccines

Separately, on Wednesday, tensions between the European Union and the United Kingdom increased over accusations of so-called vaccine nationalism, the latest dispute between the bloc and its former member.

The EU envoy to London was summoned on Wednesday to explain comments that the UK had issued a vaccine export ban.

The United Kingdom was so irritated by Tuesday’s remarks by European Council President Charles Michel that he had “outright banned the export of vaccines,” that he summoned the ambassador for a morning meeting.

A statement from the UK government said it “has not blocked the export of a single COVID-19 vaccine. Any reference to an export ban to the UK or any restrictions on vaccines is completely wrong. “

The dispute comes against the backdrop of a major divergence between COVID-19 vaccination campaigns in the UK and the EU.

About a third of the UK’s adult population has received at least one dose of a vaccine, while less than 10 percent of adults in the 27 EU members have received an injection.

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