Whitty Defends Ending Test, Trace and Isolate in March

England’s Chief Medical Officer Chirs Whitty has defended early SAGE advice in a fiery exchange with Jeremy Hunt at today’s Health Select Committee. On 12th March, SAGE advised the Government stopped community testing, and abandoned the initial “test, trace, and isolate” strategy. Today Chris Whitty stood by that advice under fierce questioning from Hunt, saying “given the capacity that was the correct advice”. Whitty’s contention is that scaling up testing would not have been possible even it if was desirable at the start of this crisis at the speed required…

SAGE minutes on 18th February concluded, “When there is sustained transmission in the UK, contact tracing will no longer be useful.”

Whitty explained that while the Government “by a combination of skill and good luck” was initially able to successfully contain cases of the virus coming in from East Asia, “we then got this wave coming in from, above all, Spain then France then Italy over a very short period of time.” At that point testing capacity was “in the low thousands” and widespread testing became impractical. Yet testing capacity was able to subsequently rise to over 100,000 a day in just four weeks…

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mdi-account-multiple-outline Chris Whitty Jeremy Hunt
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