back to article Dominic Cummings: Health secretary's 'stupid' targets delayed building UK test and trace system to combat COVID

The UK’s Health Secretary put plans to create the test and trace system to combat the spread of COVID-19 back by more than month by needlessly introducing his own targets, the Prime Minister's former advisor claims. Having been persuaded in March 2020 by a mathematician, an AI expert and the founder of Google’s Deep Mind to …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You've got to deal with the fundamental argument that

    “But he has nothing at all on!” at last cried out all the people. The Emperor was upset, for he knew that the people were right. However, he thought the procession must go on now! The lords of the bedchamber took greater pains than ever, to appear holding up a train, although, in reality, there was no train to hold, and the Emperor walked on in his underwear.

    1. Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward

      Re: You've got to deal with the fundamental argument that

      "the Emperor walked on in his underwear."

      The thought of Bozo the clown in his underwear is enough to put me off my food. For life.

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: You've got to deal with the fundamental argument that

        Well apparently Carrie on the forum and gave a downvote....

        1. wolfetone Silver badge

          Re: You've got to deal with the fundamental argument that

          Turns out Carrie has taste, and only trusts her tech news to come El Reg.

  2. werdsmith Silver badge

    Dominic Cummings cannot escape that he was instrumental in creating the shit show he described. Does he expect people to forget that? This is self condemnation.

    Does he expect anyone to trust a word he says given his history?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Does he expect anyone to trust a word he says given his history?

      I would say, yes, I believe him. He's a liar (and there are other nouns that describe him more broadly), and likely a law-breaker and it is _quite possible_ that he either made up some of his claims, or at least, coloured them. But yes, I believe that as a vindictive (...), he wants a revenge. That said, I think he missed the boat. Years ago, his Great-Great-Great (....) Predecessor said 'there's no better day to bury bad news' and people feigned horror at such callous attitude by the gov spin-doctor, feigned it for as long as a WEEK! These days, 'er... ok, shrug'.

      Politicians are unaccountable for their failures. Not accountable politically, and not accountable legally. But this is old news, what's more important is that they know it very well, and they take full advantage.

      1. Julz Silver badge

        Re: Does he expect anyone to trust a word he says given his history?

        Politicians are accountable, but you might argue that elections are neither frequent enough nor representative enough. On the other hand, civil servants and advisors are not, well not in the way a I suspect you are meaning.

        1. HildyJ Silver badge
          Facepalm

          A word? Yes. All words? No.

          We are seeing the same sort of thing here across the pond. Revenge books are big.

          While you can't trust them as a whole, especially the parts that imply the author is blameless or even praiseworthy, the details (the juicier the better) are often closer to the mark than the target of the attack's story.

          Like all "revelations", you need to separate the wheat from the chaff.

        2. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          Re: Does he expect anyone to trust a word he says given his history?

          Julz: "Politicians are accountable"

          Which ones? William Waldegrave, whose 'change to the interpretation but not the wording of the guidelines' banning the sale of arms to Iraq resulted in a truck driver being imprisoned in Greece and the directors of Matrix Churchill being charged with serious criminal offences until they explained the FCO had authorised it is now Baron Waldegrave and Provost of Eton College. David 'there is no way we'll lose the Brexit vote' Cameron is now an author and multi millionaire, George Osborn 'taking money away from poor people does not cause them to sink into depression and suicide' has innumerable jobs at more money per week that I got paid in a year. Nick 'I guarantee we won't increase student fees' Clegg is now working at no doubt an enormous salary for a certain social media organisation. Politicians are very rarely, if ever, held to account in the UK. The last one who actually resigned after a disaster was Lord Carrington, Foreign Secretary when the Galtieri junta invaded the Falklands. Oh and Tony Blair seems to be made of Teflon (how could an illegal invasion of Iraq supporting the Americans possibly go wrong?)

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Does he expect anyone to trust a word he says given his history?

          > nor representative enough

          Personally I think the incumbent should be guaranteed to be able to stand in their own right (unless actually disqualified from doing so) and their party is forced to supply an alternative to stand.

          That way 1) the MP isn't forced to obey party lines to stand for reelection and 2) if they're doing a terrible job they don't get to stay in solely based on people voting for their party since they can vote for the other candidate.

          1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

            Re: Does he expect anyone to trust a word he says given his history?

            @AC - "Personally I think the incumbent should be guaranteed to be able to stand in their own right (unless actually disqualified from doing so) and their party is forced to supply an alternative to stand."

            I like the sentiment, but I don't think that would work as you intend... suppose there was a reasonably popular and competent incumbent, even if their party fields a joke candidate, the vote is split between them and in the first past the post system, the biggest other party wins.

      2. just another employee

        Re: Does he expect anyone to trust a word he says given his history?

        Let me get this right.

        You are saying you believe someone you are calling a liar.?

        Right......

        Something there I can't quite put my finger on...

    2. Triggerfish

      Yes he does expect people to forget, he is in the process of flinging so much shit about that he hopes he can disappear in the fecal hailstorm.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        To give him his dues, I don't think he really cares: he really is messianic. He threw a load of shit during the Brexit campaign and still landed a good job. In fact, the shit-slinging is partly what makes him attractive for those politicians seeking to get close to the plebs…

        So, we have no doubt not seen the end of him close to government.

        1. Triggerfish

          Yeah i mean the excuse given for breaking lockdown were so lazy it's contemptible and not much happened, cant see why anything else will change.

        2. Falmari Silver badge

          Naughty boy

          @Charlie Clark "he really is messianic"

          He is not the messiah he is a very naughty boy. ;)

    3. Peter X

      Still entertaining though! :D

      I do find myself wondering "why now?" and I suspect he's figured out that he (and probably Chris Whitty... or some other medical/science adviser) will be thrown under a bus after the enquiry is completed so he's getting his jabs in (no, not those ones) now whilst he can.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Chris Whitty

        No he is safe, people like and trust him, along with JVT, and Vallance.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Chris Whitty

          The people can be persuaded to believe anything if the tabloids make a concerted campaign on the subject - see Brexit.

          1. MJI Silver badge

            Re: Chris Whitty

            I have more trust in scientists than poundshop Bond villains.

  3. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Devil

    Nope, no vested interest at all...

    "Having been persuaded in March 2020 by a mathematician, an AI expert and the founder of Google’s Deep Mind... ...the need for a national test and trace system became obvious"

    "Test" (track) and trace is Google's wet dream come true - a completely legal remit to monitor people's movements in relation to each other through devices that are already phoning home with their browsing, shopping and communication habits. Let's not forget that they've already been illegally using NHS data...

  4. markr555

    Colour me surprised.

    Anyone that shines a light on the incompetent liying half-wit that is Matt Hancock goes up in my estimation, even Cummings. We've seen Hancock obviously lie time after time, we've seen him utterly demolished on political TV programs, we even seen him pathetically pretend to cry on national television when the vaccination programme started (I still struggle to watch that, makes me squirm with embarrassment). Now we see that hancock is single-handedly responsible for old people being sent back to care homes to pass on covid to other residents, after assuring the rest of government that this wouldn't happen, and resulting in many thousands of premature deaths. He shouldn't just be sacked, he should be jailed!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Colour me surprised.

      At least now we know who the fall guy is going to be...

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Colour me surprised.

        Regardless of Hancock being useless or not, he was set up to take the fall for the rest of the cabinets failings.

    2. Dr_N Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Colour me surprised.

      markr555> Anyone that shines a light on the incompetent liying half-wit that is Matt Hancock goes up in my estimation, even Cummings.

      That's just, "Say what you like about Mussolini, at least he made the trains run on time!" reworded.

      Cummings is trying (again) to rewrite his history so he doesn't go down as the lying, entitled, charlatan scumbag failure-merchant that he really is.

      He has been balls deep in this entire Boris/Gove shitshow from before the dawn of brexit right up to this ongoing Covid-clusterfuck. But as with all the current batch of Conservative brexitmongers: it's always someone else's fault. Never their own.

      1. markr555

        Re: Colour me surprised.

        Nice strawman there, your analogy isn't correct at all, I wasn't praising him for anything other than showing up Hancock for the knobhead that he is, and he certainly hasn't been a despotic dictator at all. I found the Barnard Castle thing appalling at best, and definitely indicative of the entitlement that you mention. However, he's said these things as part of a parliamentary inquiry, with those who he mentioned also as 'witnesses' in this enquiry, so we'll soon see if there is any truth if anyone corroborates his versions of events. You seem to imply that Cummings is a tory, he is at most a tory sympathiser, but we don't actually know that do we? He certainly isn't a politician! I tend to hate tories with a passion, so please don't imagine I would ever truly support one, but Cummings is allegedly shining a light on all of this corrupt and crappy government, so I don't really understand why you think his speaking out is not a good thing, regardless of whether it comes from a personal vendetta.

      2. BebopWeBop Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Colour me surprised.

        The trains were running on time before Mussolini got into [ower.....

    3. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Colour me surprised.

      I tend to get the impression that MH was all along being set up to take the fall for BoJo and chums.

      BoJo - fool

      MH - out of depth

      Cumming - poundshop Bond Villain

      1. BenDwire

        Re: Colour me surprised.

        Poundshop Bond Villain? I always thought he looked like the Mekon fron Dan Dare ...

        1. pPPPP

          Re: Colour me surprised.

          I think he looks like a pink balloon that someone's drawn features on.

        2. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Colour me surprised.

          Yes a Mekon who wants to be a poundshop Bond Villain

    4. fajensen Silver badge

      Re: Colour me surprised.

      It's a pretty good show, but, Spolier Alert, Cummings is going to get handed all the blame before being cermoniously defenestrated. He is going up against hardened, career, backstabbers and liars.

      Even Michael Gove will grass him up as a matter of convenience - when it turns out the "Boris & Friends" are staying.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Colour me surprised.

        Gove does not stab poeple in the back, he does it to their face!

        1. Dr_N Silver badge

          Re: Colour me surprised.

          Only when Mrs Gove tells him to do so.

  5. Chris G Silver badge

    I will bet the former Prime Ministerial string puller utters not one word to implicate himself as a part of the covid cluckfuster.

    It sounds like a case of sour grapes to me, I just hope that this hearing he disappears back into the woodwork never to be heard of again.

    1. markr555

      "I will bet the former Prime Ministerial string puller utters not one word to implicate himself as a part of the covid cluckfuster"

      Well he did actually say that he was included in the group that had utterly let the country down, and also gave an explicit apology for that, so it's better than anyone else has managed. Still wouldn't trust him though :-)

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Well, now Cummings has opened hostilities, it will be interesting to see what comes out from the two sides, it's likely that Boris and chums will produce 'advice' from Cummings that led to at least some of the cock ups or possibly even evidence.

        I would say it should bring a vote of no confidence and a change if not of government then of the PM and most of his cabinet but all the alternatives are no better.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          > I would say it should bring a vote of no confidence and a change if not of government then of the PM and most of his cabinet but all the alternatives are no better.

          I think you sorely underestimate the Monster Raving Loonies!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        He had to admit to his own part in the shitshow. Otherwise, anything he said would not be credible. He admitted he was not the right person to be making such decisions, and he is correct. He is also correct that the others who were making the decisions were also incapable.

        He is very good at what he does. After all he convinced millions to vote for fuxit.

    2. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Crackers

      According to Ian Dunt in today's "I", Cummings said:

      "It's crackers the I was in such a senior position, just as it's crackers that Boris Johnson was in there."

      So if he's admitting to anything, his plea seems to be 'I was an incompetent appointed by an incompetent into a world of incompetents. (Now please let me write my memoirs so I can retire to live in peace with my millions.)'

  6. lglethal Silver badge
    Trollface

    The expression...

    "When thieves fall out..." comes to mind, right now...

    I can't possibly say why...

  7. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    There's going to be some interesting mud-slinging going on over the UK's handling of COVID.

    Unfortunately I doubt anything useful will happen as a result.

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Trollface

      "Unfortunately I doubt anything useful will happen as a result."

      You want results from a British government??? Not in this century!

      1. The First Dave

        I think you mean 'from an English government' - there is no significant representation of any other country in the current cabinet, and the governments of Scotland, NI and Wales were all working to a rather different plan to Westminster.

        1. Julz Silver badge

          No they are not.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The thing is, Johnson could start a campaign of murdering babies, and people would still vote for him.

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Joke

        Well admittedly...

        ... murdering babies is a bit extreme. I mean I simply would have started by banning them from public transport, planes, restaurants, hotels, etc. You know, places where their screaming is bloody annoying.

        Murder might be taking it a bit too far, but I'm willing to listen to his reasoning...

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Well admittedly...

          "Murder might be taking it a bit too far, but I'm willing to listen to his reasoning..."

          Why would you ban them from restaurants? Can't you eat a whole one?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "The thing is, Johnson could start a campaign of murdering babies, and people would still vote for him."

        The horrifyingly high abortion rate hasn't harmed any politician of the last 60 years

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      While it is great to see someone on the inside shining some light on it, it was already apparent to anyone with at least half a brain that the entire thing has been a total disaster. The govt had no plan and no clue. Unfortunately they, along with many other countries in Europe and the Americas simply didn't take the threat seriously. Other countries did, especially in the Asia Pacific region after their experiences with SARS and MERS. I still get UK contacts telling me that Bojo and his govt "did everything they could" and "nobody could have done any better". Absolute fucking bullshit.

      The other thing I have heard that makes me incandescent with rage is "yes, you can say this in hindsight". It isn't fucking hindsight when other nations with access to exactly the same information as the UK could see where it was heading and did something about it before the virus had spread widely through their populations making it impossible to control.

      While APAC countries were locking down, closing borders, implementing quarantine and setting up working trace systems in February/March last year, UK govt was doing nothing. Bojo was joking about shaking hands with COVID patients! They repeatedly ignored their advisors telling them they needed to lock down, before finally doing it weeks later. Didn't implement any border controls or quarantine for months, gave out contracts to their cronies for faulty PPE and spunked millions on a tracing system that didn't work.

      If they had done what APAC countries did, the virus would likely have been largely under control by May. Deaths would be in the low thousands instead of the hundreds of thousands and the economy would be in less of a hole as things could have gone to nearly normal after one early hard lockdown.

      They have blood on their hands, but the sad thing is people will forget all this and still fucking vote for them at the next election. I only hope the public inquiry will actually get to the facts and hold somebody to account but I won't be holding my breath.

      Despite him being a slimy toad, Cumming is actually coming across as contrite and honest about his own and other peoples failings.

      1. Triggerfish

        As someone who had a choice to make of whether to stay in Vietnam, or return to the UK. Never had my judgement been so wrong on who would handle it so well. I stayed in Vietnam because I had elderly parents and coming through every airport seemed a bad idea, I thought better I ride it out in Vietnam, I mean standard hospitals here are scary (and private hospitals few), its still to some degree a developing country, cleanliness etc not as much. I expected it to be the worst hit vs somewhere like the UK.

        Instead

        Politicians seemed only to be giving a shit about their shareholders and party contributors staying open.

        People were dropping like flies in Italy, I had UK colleagues still discussing holidays in Spain and the Cheltenham festival was on, there was discussion about keeping music festivals going. I had American colleagues actually tell me as Americans it took their freedom away to wear a mask while they sat in lockdown that weekend, and I went to bars and hit the countryside for a jolly.

        I've genuinely sat here last year and been amazed at the batshit craziness that seems to have been the mark of countries outside of APAC response.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I have a good friend who moved from the UK to Cheyenne in Wyoming. He got vaccinated as soon as he could as he works in the hospital and has seen the impact first hand.

          His daughters just got vaccinated now that they have opened up the Pfizer vaccine to anyone over 12. His line was "One good thing about living in a state that is anti vax, anti science and pro stupid is that at least there is plenty of supply".

          1. Kane Silver badge

            His daughters just got vaccinated now that they have opened up the Pfizer vaccine to anyone over 12. His line was "One good thing about living in a state that is anti vax, anti science and pro stupid is that at least there is plenty of supply".

            Short queues I would imagine.

            I realise that's a very...english thing to say

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            His line was "One good thing about living in a state that is anti vax, anti science and pro stupid is that at least there is plenty of supply".

            I assume he meant a good supply of vaccine and not a good supply of stupid :-)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    LBW

    Well done Dom!

    That was as good as Sir Geoffrey

  9. Howard Sway

    the former Brexit master-mind and Boris Johnson's spin doctor

    Or more accurately : the former stable lad now touting himself as a locksmith for stable doors after all his horses bolted.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: the former Brexit master-mind and Boris Johnson's spin doctor

      I prefer poundshop Bond villain

  10. s. pam
    Big Brother

    Gollum has spoken

    and Cumspot will continue to make anything everyone else's fault except his. his swagger and arrogance of the cluster fluck he had a direct hand in is beyond compare.

  11. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Coat

    COVID The Musical

    How the HMG handled the crisis.

    Casting...

    Bozo the clown

    Mr Bean

    Mr Blobby

    Laurel and Hardy

    1. UriGagarin
      Facepalm

      Re: COVID The Musical

      Laurel and Hardy might be prone to accidents , but they rarely caused mass deaths , mostly they caused their own downfall..... oh.

    2. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: COVID The Musical

      You omitted

      the Three Stooges and

      the Keystone Kops

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What do you expect from someone like him.

    I just think that it is someone who thought he was oh-so important finding out that he was completely dispensable when it actually came down to it.

    He was where he was because of the patronage of Boris, and when he lost that, whatever the reason, there was really no point in him being where he was. He may have engineered getting Boris to be Prime Minister, but that was no guarantee that once there, Boris would continue to want him around. I very much doubt that any member of the cabinet actually listened to him, and they probably wished he wasn't there.

    This just sounds like a last ditch attempt to damage the reputations of people who are appointed into real positions of responsibility, possibly to either try to regain Boris's trust (although after what he said, that seems very unlikely) or deflect blame away from himself in the hope of maintaining some form of popular credibility.

    I don't fancy his chances in either of these endeavors, and from my point of view, the quicker he is condemned as a nasty chapter in political history, the better. I believe that he has done more to damage the Conservative Party than anyone else in modern times, and consequently, the entire political system in this country (although Jeremy Corbin with Momentum and Jacob Rees-Mogg and the ERG also had a hand in that).

    But I doubt this will be the last we hear of his muck-raking. Expect the book for Christmas.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: What do you expect from someone like him.

      don't forget the Blog!

    2. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: What do you expect from someone like him.

      @AC what is this "Corbin" nonsense - don't see how Corbyn has damaged the political system of this country, his policies initially enthused a lot of younger people (though since Starmer took over and left wing policies have been abandoned then that Labour support is plummeting). You could argue Starmer damaged the political system by not providing any opposition since he became LOTO - he failed to address the many flaws in COVID policy, and was actually supportive of them.

      Disclosure, not a Labour voter or supporter, not a Tory or Lib Dem, none of the parties really speak for me so generally a "wasted" think about the future green vote when elections come round.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What do you expect from someone like him.

        OP here. A bit of an oopsie with the spelling, I admit.

        But his policies were overly optimistic, and promised undeliverable things to students and young people just to try to get them on board.

        And his policy on defence and the nuclear deterrent, and his attitude to the Queen, his inability to recognise the damage he was doing to the Labour party with his personal attitude on the Middle East and anti-Semitism, losing so many seats that it is questionable whether Labour is actually an effective opposition any more. And Momentum. Don't forget I also said Momentum.

        He was a leader at odds with the political Labour Party. Damaging the primary opposition damages UK politics.

        Keir Starmer is a disgrace. He came to power on a promise of nonconfrontentational politics, and has done nothing except criticise the government, while not actually leading any effective opposition.

        1. fajensen Silver badge

          Re: What do you expect from someone like him.

          while not actually leading any effective opposition.

          Labour is it's own opposition, and it is very effective: 80 seats Tory majority despite them being total clowns and blatantly corrupt on a level that would embarrass Vladimir Putin!

  13. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "in my opinion, he should have been fired for that thing alone"

    Oh really, Mr Cummings ?

    And you have no such skeletons in your closet ?

    I'm not really up to speed on UK politics, but I do seem to remember that you've done a few things that I thought should have gotten you the same result.

    Pot calling kettle black, as usual.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: "in my opinion, he should have been fired for that thing alone"

      Oh really, Mr Cummings ?

      And you have no such skeletons in your closet ?

      Well, there's always Russia. But such is politics that any skeletons are likely to get dug up and spun against the super-spad. Although it was a nice idea to have a UK version of swamp draining, he was up against people who like the swamp just the way it is.

      I think the biggest problem was Cummings setting himself up as a chief of staff, rather than being a senior policy advisor. Hancock was still in charge of health, so ultimately responsible, and vaguely accountable for health policy.

  14. Skiron
    Alert

    Well, I read most of what he had to say - and to be honest, he is just trying to get himself away from the fire. Having said that though, you can't blame the Government for what happened - the WHOLE World didn't know what to do, or when they did, when to do it, as something like this has never been seen before in modern times. It caught everybody out, and in some places it still is.

    At least the UK got the vaccine roll out spot on.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The government was always going to make mistakes (anyone would). All you can do is hope that those you do make are either inconsequential, or at least understandable.

      Unfortunately, the current government did make some mistakes later in 2020 that were obvious at the time, this was pointed out to them, and they still carried on anyway. :(

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "the WHOLE World didn't know what to do"

      I am sorry, but this is bullshit. Maybe countries in Europe and the Americas didn't know what to do, but a lot of other countries did, especially in the Asia Pacific region as they had been through SARS and MERS and actually had pandemic plans in place. I live in one of them (Australia).

      While APAC countries were locking down, closing borders, implementing quarantine and setting up working trace systems in February/March last year, UK govt was doing nothing. Bojo was joking about shaking hands with COVID patients! They repeatedly ignored their own advisors telling them they needed to lock down, before finally doing it weeks later. Didn't implement any border controls or quarantine for months, gave out contracts to their cronies for faulty PPE and spunked millions on a tracing system that didn't work. Add to this the totally baffling advice they gave out that simply confused people as to what they needed to do.

      If they had done what APAC countries did, the virus would likely have been largely under control by May. Deaths would be in the low thousands instead of the hundreds of thousands and the economy would be in less a hole as things could have gone to nearly normal after one early hard lockdown.

      So yes, I absolutely can blame the UK govt for what happened. Their inept response has led to one of the worst death rates in the world and crushed the economy. Since most of my family and friends still live there this makes me apoplectic with rage, as I know how things could have gone with a competent approach.

      Apart from a large outbreak in Victoria when the virus got out of quarantine, we have been largely COVID free since last May. We have another quarantine breach at the moment leading to over 20 cases in Victoria again, so the state has just gone into a 7 day circuit breaker lockdown. Swift action stops the spread. On multiple occasions the UK govt just prevaricated while the virus silently spread before finally implementing a lockdown weeks after.

      Have a look at this, then with a straight face say nobody knew what to do.

      https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-25/covid-19-spread-through-australia-over-year/13078574

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        The OP was right - no one *knew* what to do at the beginning. This was a new virus with unusual features. Some things were likely to help regardless, such as closing borders, but the rest may have been ineffective or made the situation worse. The range of responses made it clear what works and what doesn't.

        Without doubt, the history of previous illnesses played a part - populations in countries with a history of SARS and MERS were much more likely to go along with severe restrictions than those that haven't. Early lockdowns etc would not have worked in e.g. the UK because there was no history - the population would simply not have gone along with it because there was no referent. The figures needed to demonstrate the enormity of SARS-Cov-2 before most people would accept the need to change the way they live.

        1. Triggerfish

          I do think in some way this may have helped with the public. SARs was very remote to people living in the UK. meanwhile this played out on the public consciousness in Vietnam.

          https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/2003/05/05/vietnam-took-lead-in-containing-sars/b9b97e91-b325-42f9-98ef-e23da9f257a0/

          The words China and Virus, absolutely got peoples ears here pricked up from day one, people already started taking precautions as soon as those words hit the news and it just became a thing that you wear masks and wash hands even before it was official. People were worried.

          I believe at the time the gov vowed never to risk something like that getting in the wild again, and pretty much said at the beginning of COVID we'd rather shut down now and have a small mistake than have a disaster.

          Public attitude IMO has been a major factor in shutting down the spread. So saying there must have been a point we could have thought people should have been getting a clue also when we saw it hitting other countries.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Australia didn't really get hit by SARS or MERS, but saw the impact on regional neighbours. Same for NZ.

            One thing Australia did have was a practiced pandemic plan, which involved stakeholders in different agencies across Commonwealth and state/territory governments. Although it obviously couldn't have all the information about the COVID virus and was primarily aimed at containing a future pandemic flu, the basics of infection control apply regardless. The plan was implemented and then adapted as new information about the current virus became available.

            At the time, I thought that the Australian reaction was massive overkill. I had flights back to the UK booked in May and was pissed off I couldn't get back to see family. However, I am very willing to admit that I have never been more happy to be proved wrong. The government advisors knew more than I did and the government followed their advice in a timely manner.

            The sad thing is UK govt was getting similar advice from their advisors. They just chose to ignore it, despite what they could see happening in places like Italy and Iran.

            Lockdown in conjunction with border control stops the virus in its tracks. You prevent new cases coming into the country and allow the health authorities to deal with the ones already there without getting overwhelmed, which is what leads to the high death rate. Lockdown prevents local infection. After a couple of incubation periods the virus is basically gone and life can get back to not quite normal.

            Without the Victoria quarantine escape debacle last year, Australia would probably be sat at less then 100 deaths across the whole pandemic. As it is, we are currently at less than 1000. I just hope the current Victorian quarantine escape has been contained before it has seeded too far into the community. On the plus side, it has pushed some people who were hesitant/complacent about getting vaccinated into getting a jab.

            Maybe we do have more trust in our governments here, although this is surprising as they normally act like squabbling infants. Fortunately, they listened to the people who knew more than they did. Perhaps UK govt should have tried doing what they did. Be forthright and honest with the population, clearly explain what the situation was and how it needs to be handled. Put the medical advisors up front with the ministers at new conferences to answer the questions. Get Norman Swan on the news to explain things in simple terms (Sorry we pinched him from Scotland) and say why the required action was being taken. Basically do the right thing, not the popular thing and trust the population to go along with you.

        2. adam 40 Silver badge
          Pirate

          Precautionary Principle

          It you don't *know* then you must adopt the precautionary principle.

          Shut the borders immediately. Hard quarantine under guard for repatriations. Start making vaccines. Vaccine trials to include live virus infection (of volunteers) to speed them up and test efficacy.

          COVID-19 was a wakeup call, the next one (that will be worse) will kill many more.

          Look at Vietnam right now, they have an even more virulent strain than Kent or Indian, but they are still on the Amber list here. What the actual fuck??? No lessons learned so far.

      2. Julz Silver badge

        Lets review that in about a years time.

  15. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    Hindsight

    It is very clear that the UK government, along with most of those in the Western World were caught flat-footed by the speed and scale of Sars-Cov-2.

    But there was always going to be a balance in how to approach it, and different people will have a different idea about where that was likely to be.

    From a purely 'Lets save all the lives we can', then the best approach wold have been for the government to confine the entire population to their homes, except for the people who would have been needed to distribute the necessary food and supplies, and run the essential services to keep everyone alive. But the economy would be devistated, and there would be no clear exit plan until Sars-Cov-2 had disappeared from the entire world.

    For the 'We've got to keep the economy working' position, then doing nothing might have seemed the best plan, and hoping that it would burn through the population quickly, without destroying the NHS.

    But neither of these would actually have been completely sensible. I'm getting quite sick of the "Oh, but if we'd followed the scientific advice...' argument, because although this seems simple, science is never simple, and even in the scientific community, there were differences in opinion. If you gave one scientist a range of different desired outcomes, they may well have come up with more than one type of advice. Science is not (unlike what many people think) absolute, and the way the scientific method is means that you go with the current theory until it is disproved.

    As more information about mutation rate, transmissibility and even the source and movement vectors become known, it is very likely that the path that was chosen may prove not to have been the best one. But without this information, a huge amount of what was likely to happen was informed guesswork, and the only countries that seem to have come out slightly better are those where the people were more willing to be controlled by their government, but even their handling was not perfect (and I have a strong distrust of what those regimes actually say happened in their countries).

    The only thing that we can hope that will happen is that next time (and there will be a next time), we will be more prepared.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hindsight

      So refreshing when someone speaks sense and I'm reminded that the pitchfork brigade chanting "coulda shoulda" aren't nearly as big as I sometimes perceive them to be.

    2. Nifty Silver badge

      Re: Hindsight

      This is the big either or fallacy - either total lockdown or total Covid death & disaster.

      The Mayor of Tübingen in Bavaria got it closest to right.

      This is the one place in Europe that was still allowing care/residential home visits by relatives in late 2020.

      Article from March this year:

      https://www.dw.com/en/is-t%C3%BCbingen-the-model-german-city-during-the-pandemic/a-56953286

      Tübingen was one of the first cities in Germany to introduce systematic tests in retirement and care homes, back in April last year. It was also at the fore in granting senior citizens free FFP2 masks, while the shops in the city center were also reserved for them in the mornings.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Hindsight

        Tübingen is not in Bavaria but in Baden-Württemberg.

        But, otherwise, Boris Palmer is an interesting mayor and, along with the mayor of Rostock deserves credit for demonstrating that there are alternatives to lockdown.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hindsight

      Whilst your argument is balanced and well thought-out, I would point out that the "econonmy vs health" argument is a false binary. Dr Larry Brilliant (the person in charge of eradicating smallpox when it was) has given some very interesting and enlightening interviews, which may be worth a listen. :)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hindsight

        Whilst I only provided two extremes positions in my original post, I am quite well aware that the problem is hugely more complicated than just economy vs. health. And I was pointing out that it is a graded choice rather than a binary one.

        The problem is that listening to what is going around the media at the moment, they are trying to make it a binary choice dilemma. And however many other factors you want to take into account, these two are quite important.

        1. John H Woods Silver badge

          Re: Hindsight

          economy vs health is not even a graded choice, it's a completely false dichotomy. The economy is not some mystical deity but an emergent behaviour of society. That is why societies that did most to protected their citizens automatically protected their economies without even trying whereas those who thought that the economy was the most important thing managed to trash their economies and kill people.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hindsight

            That may be your view, but it's not the way that the media and the opposition look at it.

            And I would like you to defend your position. The only ways to prevent a rapid spread of the virus were vaccination (takes time), isolationism (not possible because we're a non-self sufficient island, and the virus was already established by the time action could be taken), rapid and comprehensive testing (works quite well if the population is small and not very mobile - neither of which describe the UK, and it took too long to set up) followed up by enforced isolation, or lockdown, which was always going to affect the consumer economy, one way or another.

            In theory, there were halfway houses like local lockdowns, enforced testing or at least temperature checks where people gather, but all of these things fail in the UK because it is a small, highly populated country with multi-generational households, with population gathered in large conurbations, and a society where people don't like being dictated to by anyone, let alone the government.

            I'd love to know who you think "..most to protected their citizens". Germany? Sweden? Japan? They all did well in a first wave, but all became complacent, relaxed and stumbled with later waves (and Germany is not far behind the UK w.r.t. deaths now).

            Australia and New Zealand did well, but only by closing their borders, something that is possible with countries which are net exporters of food, but closing your borders also affects exports, which affect GDP and (again) the economy.

            The UK is not a poster boy by a long way, but I don't think that there is one shining example anywhere in the world. Everywhere struggled in one way or another, and I don't think we even know how less developed countries with poorer health systems have actually done, and their story is far from over.

            If you have any other ideas, then I'm sure that the Government would welcome a something new to consider

            1. Claverhouse Silver badge

              Re: Hindsight

              (and Germany is not far behind the UK w.r.t. deaths now).

              .

              Though it spoils the glee of anti-europeans, rubbing their hands in anticipation of millions of further deaths in Germany to emphasize their alleged vaccination failures and beastliness --- starting back early last year when some clod in government dismissed the statistics on the grounds 'we don't know how this will change' ---

              Germany's Death-Rate per million is: 1060

              Britain's Death-Rate per million is: 1873

              .

              The reliable https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ ( though all foreigners are lying all the time of course, since non-Britons lack the essential integrity of our prime minister. )

              1. Julz Silver badge

                Re: Hindsight

                Just wait...

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Hindsight

                It was not my intention to criticize Germany in any way, but to show that the UK, while suffering from some quite horrible stats, was not alone.

                The comment I made about deaths in Germany was based on a news item carried in the UK media about the number of deaths in the latest wave (I was not specific enough in what I said, I guess). I cannot find an online reference, but from the statista pages (https://www.statista.com/statistics/1115043/coronavirus-deaths-timeline-in-the-eu-5/), it is clear that the number of deaths in Germany has been continuing to rise, while the deaths in the UK started to plateau earlier in the year. Germany is still behind, I agree, but it is not clear where it will end up, and we are not in the clear yet. And in the first month of this year or so, the rate of rise was very similar between the two countries.

                I don't think that the European project has come out of this affair particularly well. Looking (now) from the outside, you could draw the conclusion that the EU was suffering from Not Invented Here syndrome, although it could just be a case of extreme caution and bureaucracy, leading to an artificial slowdown of the

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Hindsight

              "Australia and New Zealand did well, but only by closing their borders, something that is possible with countries which are net exporters of food, but closing your borders also affects exports, which affect GDP and (again) the economy."

              I am baffled as to why you think closing borders means you can't import/export stuff. They are not hermetically sealed.

              It is possible to close borders to most people while still allowing freight in and out. Ports here in Oz haven't closed and we are happily importing all the stuff we need and exporting cows and iron ore (and possibly other stuff). With Bolsonaro apparently on a mission to wipe out his own population, iron ore exports from Brazil have dried up, so the majority of the worlds supply of it is coming from here. If we stopped exporting it, global manufacturing would be in a bit of a mess.

              For freight on trucks, you just need to make sure drivers are tested and you monitor where they go. This is where a working trace system comes in handy. States were closing their borders to each other here, but they weren't daft enough to stop freight moving between them.

              You can even have exemptions for key personnel like medical workers, diplomats, actors and tennis players.

              As for the GDP, figures released this week show the economy has bounced back to the extent that is now larger than it was in December 2019. Since May last year the domestic economy has boomed (obvious exception of Victoria while it was locked down). House prices are through the roof, unemployment is down and everybody is busy blowing all the cash they saved during lockdown. The government wound back the income support program a couple of months back, although they might need to do something again in Victoria if the current lockdown there is extended beyond 7 days.

              You can't fix the economy without getting on top of the health situation first and the only real way to do that is border control until the population is sufficiently vaccinated.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Hindsight

                People need to move the goods, and the virus can persist on solid surfaces for several days, so it is quite possible for it to leak through the borders. Fresh goods have shelf lives similar to the virus.

                When you export, especially in containers, you need to import the containers to fill, which if not monitored could be a vector.

                One of the points I was trying to make was that Australia and New Zealand have an advantage compared, particularly, to the UK. They could exist on their own produce quite easily, and the population density is very low and in largely isolated islands of population compared to the UK. I do not actually know how the raw materials market went, but I'm sure that the slowdown of the Chinese economy cannot have had no effect to the instantaneous economy of your country. Yes, a bounce back is good, but there would still have been lost GDP during event. For goodness sake, the oil price collapsed world-wide, and I would be very surprised if your mining industries were not similarly affected.

                The UK is a net-importer of pretty much everything necessary to keep people alive (including PPE, medicines, food, fuel, clothes, and even people). We've been haemorrhaging money we actually don't have (but can borrow) to support people and businesses, may of which won't come back, and although our raw economy may recover, the time it will take to pay the money through higher taxes back to the markets will be dragging government and other spending down for decades.

                Switching track, lots of countries cannot afford to borrow, cannot afford to lock down without killing their people, and cannot afford to be high on the list for vaccines. Tell these countries and their people that there is a good a way through this! The situation in many of these countries is so uncontrolled that they probably don't even have accurate counts of the number of people that they have lost or who have become ill. As a result, the situation seems better than it actually is, as seen by the upward revision of the deaths in countries like India and Brazil when the real situation becomes more apparent.

    4. Citizen of Nowhere

      Re: Hindsight

      Whatever approach is adopted needs to be competently managed and the required actions effectively executed and communicated. None of that appears evident in the UK government's response to this pandemic.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hindsight

      Lockdown is part of the answer. The main part is border control. If you stop new cases coming in and stop community transmission then within two or three incubation periods (about 4 - 6 weeks) the virus is gone and you can open back up.

      The health or economy argument is totally false. If you don't get on top of the health situation, you can't open the economy. Countries that saw what was happening in Italy and took strong early action have had both the best health and economic outcomes. Countries like Vietnam, Taiwan, NZ and Australia have been living mostly COVID free since May last year (Except Victoria which was locked down for over 100 days after they virus got out of quarantine). When outbreaks occur, they can be stopped by short targeted local lockdowns. Taiwan is having is first major outbreak, possibly due to complacency but the numbers are still relatively small and they have taken swift action to control it.

      Compare this to the UK where you have had repeated lockdowns, an enormous number of deaths and the economy has been devastated.

      It isn't hindsight. Australia and NZ in particular saw exactly the same information and are very similar in culture, outlook and parliamentary system to the UK. As another island nation, the UK could easily have listened to their own health experts and taken similar action with likely similar positive results. The fact they chose not to is on the heads of Johnson and his government.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hindsight

        Locking down the borders was not physically possible in a country that relies on imports for food and other essentials. Eventually, it would have come into the country, and then it is down to the in country procedures

        As I said before, Australia and New Zealand had the advantage of being net exporters, And I don't know how their exports fared when the border lockdown was in effect. I guess we'll see as time goes by.

        But keeping the virus out of the country only works if you either eliminate the virus in the rest of the world, or are able to vaccinate your country completely while the border is closed. Anything else just delays it, and you will face outbreaks in the future.

        Vietnam is currently in a new wave, so I would not hold them up just yet.

        The UK government's communication has been very varied, with some of it very good and candid, and some absolutely shocking examples over the last year. And there has been changes in policy as time has progressed. But I don't think that a single policy could have been laid out at the beginning of the pandemic that would have stood as the situation evolved.

        But putting their trust and money into backing several vaccines, just to make sure that some of them actually were effective was probably the best policy that they followed, and one that will benefit the rest of the world.

        I wonder how much FUD about the Astra Zenica vaccine was actually being spread by those companies that had followed traditional development regimes and were expecting profits, when it became clear that the patents for the AZ vaccine were going to be licensed at no cost around the world, because the development was funded by the UK government.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hindsight

          You can still move freight with closed borders. In Australia, WA closed its borders to other states for nearly a year, but trucks could still bring in freight. They export a lot of dirt, but have to import most other things. They just had very tight rules to control the truck drivers.

          As for nationally, closing the borders has not affected imports of electronics, cars and other non food items. Plus, we still do import food. As we have fairly strong country of origin labelling you can quite easily see what has been made/grown here and what has been imported, especially on fish and fruit.

          The UK could have easily closed its borders to non residents, stop people leaving and quarantining arrivals. You did eventually do it, just about 10 months too late.

          Some of the countries that have coped best so far (Taiwan, Vietnam) and here in Victoria are now seeing a rise in cases. It just shows how infectious this virus is and that you cannot get complacent. The numbers are still a tiny fraction of what others have seen though. They are implementing strong measures so hopefully they can get on top of it before things get out of control. If there is one good thing to come out of these new spikes it is driving people to get vaccinated.

  16. Big_Boomer Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Ripley moment?

    Well, it is the only way to be REALLY sure isn't it? I really must move away from being downwind of London.

    Time after time corruption, incompetence, lies, graft, etc. are gotten away with by successive governments of the UK. Our lot seem to be worse than the mafia owned lot in Italy in the 70s-90s. When is John Public going to wake up and start DEMANDING accountability, prosecutions, and gaol sentences for those found guilty? And I don't give a flying **** if you think Labour are any better than the Tories. They took us to war with their lies, which the Tories haven't managed in this parliament,... yet.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Ripley moment?

      "When is John Public going to wake up and start DEMANDING accountability, prosecutions, and gaol sentences for those found guilty?"

      When the Carling at Wetherspoons runs out, and in turns out the immigrants they hated aren't in the country at all - and it's STILL a shit hole.

  17. Potemkine! Silver badge

    "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral"

    "Sin city"? Or "I spit on your grave"?

  18. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    100,000

    Hancock's aim of 100,000 'tests a day' by the end of April (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52140376) was not achieved. His team counted test kits that had been posted out to people on that day, not tests that had actually been completed in a laboratory. Many of these tests took several days to be returned, some of the returned kits were contaminated or incorrectly packaged so could not be used. They actually managed a quite impressive 82,000 (approx.) that day, but not close to the number announced by Hancock.

    This was reported on the BBC's 'More or Less' radio program hosted by Tim Harford, and their repeated fact checking of Hancock's (false) claims about testing made rather depressing listening.

    Personally I am just glad that I've had my second Pfizer BioNtech jab without getting Covid, so should be ok (fingers crossed).

    1. Skiron
      Megaphone

      Re: 100,000

      You see, people don't read/tell porkies about what he _actually_ said. From that BEEB report:

      Mr Hancock said 100,000 tests "is the goal and I'm determined we'll get there".

      He said it's the GOAL - not how many tests will be done. That is two different things.

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: 100,000

        @Skiron

        The BBC article was at the beginning of April. At the beginning of May Hancock claimed to have met his target:

        https://fullfact.org/health/coronavirus-100k-tests/

        "1 MAY 2020

        The government claims that it has hit its pledge to carry out 100,000 Covid-19 tests a day by the end of April.

        Health secretary Matt Hancock set the target on April 2. Figures he gave at the daily briefing today stated that testing figures had hit 122,347 on April 30.

        ...

        Professor John Newton, Director of Health Improvement at Public Health England, confirmed that tests that are sent out to people at home or to satellite centres are counted at the point they are sent, rather than when the tests are completed.

        Of the 122,347 tests that the government has said were completed on April 30, 27,497 are home tests and 12,872 were sent out to satellite sites. This suggests that just 81,978 of the tests were actually processed. "

        And today, Hancock has admitted that the testing capacity was inadequate to test all patients leaving hospital for a care home for some time while the testing capabilities were being increased, although I don't know whether he was talking about actual capability within the UK including private and University and other research organisations or just the separate testing facilities he was having set up.

  19. batfink Silver badge

    Popcorn please

    Ah, how I enjoy it when people I detest all start fighting each other....

  20. Empire of the Pussycat
    Mushroom

    It's a novel experience to find myself agreeing with Cummings

    Always expected Johnson and his gang of second-raters to be incompetent.

    Unfortunately, Cummings didn't consider that while he was gleefully helping them damage and degrade the UK, and in the process enact the greatest stripping of individual rights in the history of the country.

    Then came the pandemic, and things got worse.

    1. fajensen Silver badge

      Re: It's a novel experience to find myself agreeing with Cummings

      How could he consider that? He is a moron himself!

  21. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    > Challenged by MPs as to why it took two months to set up the test and trace system, Cumming said: “In lots of ways the whole core of government

    > fundamentally fell apart,” when the prime minister went into hospital in April.

    Given that he doesn't appear to actually do anything, it surprises me immensely that anybody would notice if he stopped.

  22. Just Enough
    Facepalm

    Usual pointing out of basic factual errors on Register's NHS coverage

    "delayed building UK England test and trace system"

    "appointed to lead the NHS England Test and Trace service"

    "The UK’s England's test and trace system eventually launched in May."

  23. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Fundamentally undemocratic

    here's a separate person responsible directly to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Secretary

    This sums up Cummings' approach to parliamentary democracy and the civil service: avoid it. Hancock may be a fool, though I think I've seen worse, but it's his job to set the priorities for the NHS and he is accountable to parliament. Being accountable to the PM means essentially means being accountable to no one as a series of cabinet office disasters should have proved.

    There are plenty of reasons to dislike parliament, the cabinet and the civil service but, within the constraints of the UK constitution they are the bastions of government and, hence, our democracy. The cabinet are the appointments of the Crown and it is thus the duty of parliament to hold them accountable. Civle servants on the other hand are not political lackeys but servants of the country who's job is too see the will of people done by enforcing the laws passed by parliament. This inevitably leads to fiefdoms and conflicts but, so far, we haven't come up with anything better.

    Please bear with my naive idealism but I think we could all benefit from a better explanation of the different roles and the important we all have to play in a democracy.

  24. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    The origins

    of this shit show of a pandemic go back a long way and help explain why in a national crisis , the last people you need holding onto power is a bunch of self interested back stabbers.

    Cast you minds back a long time, and on BBC there was a 'reality' show about various different national crisis and guest politicians/bigwigs who'd try to manage them.

    First one up was 'terrorist attack on London" where the terrorists managed to set off a large bomb on a tube train under the Thames that damaged the tunnel. they spent so much time arguing over who to save, and whether to shut the flood doors at either end of the tunnel, that the tunnel collapsed , killing everyone in the train and flooding out the tube system.

    The second scenario was oddly 'pandemic'. again , they were more worried about their image in the public eye than doing the decent thing of full local curfew , city wide lockdown and tracing everyone who'd been near the afflicted hospital. result was the disease escaping the city and spreading country wide. I gave up watching at that point as it seemed to point to the fact the people who are elected to be our leaders should never be allowed to weild actual power

  25. airbrush

    Under oath

    If he exaggerated its going to be by omission, his testimony just confirmed that the current idiots in charge were a particularly nasty bunch of dysfunctional idiots. You'd be lying if you don't acknowledge that it explains the poor communication, uturns and crazy decisions over the past year. The problem is that despite all the proof he provided this will just be brushed under the carpet by their mates in the media.

  26. Jason Hindle Silver badge

    Now I know how most here feel about Cummings

    And I agree. But before throwing him under a bus, isn’t he just too useful and idiot to waste at the moment? Hold that thought.

  27. John H Woods Silver badge

    I don't know what Cummings motives are:

    they could be anything between cynicism and moral epiphany and I'm not sure even his friends know.

    What I do know is that absolutely nothing he said was surprising despite the "Domshell" headlines. The only thing that was remotely surprising is that it was getting said out loud and on the record. I think pretty much anybody with more than half a brain strongly suspected, if not knew, that it was going down exactly like this.

    I hear a lot of comment that he's out for revenge or even that what he is saying is 'unsubstantiated' but I'm hearing precious few people claiming it's actually false. Meanwhile the government are banging on about the success of the vaccine roll out which is a remarkable success for the UK but not really that much to do with HMG: the most credit they can take, AFAICS is the gamble with stretching the intradose interval which, luckily for them, paid off.

    Meanwhile Matt Hancock says he didn't watch the testimony because he was "too busy saving lives" - I mean does he really believe this? Does he really believe anybody else does? I suspect he'd have saved more lives if he'd gone off sick and left it to the detested bureaucrats and experts to handle.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In Barnard Castle, hindsight is 20/20

    (he has already been caught 'improving' his blog)

  29. TRT Silver badge

    TBH

    What they have now isn’t great. Just done a rapid antigen test aka a lateral flow test.

    The negative result should be entered into a website. The URL? Cumbersome and printed in the instruction book. QR code for that? No.

    There’s a QR code on the test though. My eyesight isn’t what it was so the serial number under the QR code on the test cassette is unreadable without my glasses (if you’re registered visually impaired or blind I presume you are immune to COVID as there’s no large print or Braille option when ordering the test).

    Can you enter the results of one of these tests in the Covid 19 nhs app? No! Only the PCR ones and the app doesn’t read QR codes for test results so there’s another source of inaccuracy.

    The website reads the QR code though but requires you to set up an online account unless you want to enter details every time you take Ine of these supposed to be twice weekly tests. NHS number required to create account. That’s a 10 digit number that the website insists should have no spaces. Go to the NHS app to get my number. Copy and paste it and… rejected because the NHS app gives it WITH spaces. Ok so I remove the spaces. Still invalid. Why? Because it truncated the pasted value to 10 characters at the form input stage, so the two unnecessary spaces put in by the NHS app removed two digits from the end of the number. There was absolutely no need for that restriction on characters. It’s like no one has tested this website before releasing it. I didn’t bother reporting it in the end because it was so much bother. Negative test so not that important right? Well apart from spotting bad test batches and increasing statistics accuracy.

    And how much did this all cost us? Infuriating to me to see such poor user experience.

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