Has Boris Johnson's Test And Trace Gone Beyond The Point Of No Return?

4 min read
fairly easy
As PM finally admits the system isn't good enough, some wonder if it will ever work properly.
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"I am prepared for the worst, but hope for the best." As the country struggles with this second wave of coronavirus, many will hope that Benjamin Disraeli's words are being taken to heart by his self-proclaimed "One Nation" heir, Boris Johnson.‌

Way back in July, the PM did indeed echo his predecessor as he set out his new "Recovery Strategy". "I know we can beat this virus," he declared. "Hoping for the best, but planning for the worst."

With his next breath, Johnson said: "I'll now hand over to Dido…" Yes, as he tried to reassure the nation that things in the summer were under control after an awful spring, it was NHS Test and Trace chief Dido Harding who was standing next to him at that No.10 briefing.‌

Today, almost exactly three months later, the PM's tone had changed. Harding – these days dubbed "Dido Hiding" by some in Whitehall for her lack of public appearances – was notably absent at the Downing Street press conference. And even Johnson was forced to admit for the first time his frustration at her service's latest performance failures.

The system is continuing to fail on two key measures. First, it has never met Johnson's target of 100% 24-hour turnaround of in-person tests. The latest figures show that just 15% of tests hit that metric in the week to October 14. Second, its contact tracing rate (taking into account…
Paul Waugh
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