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Johnson wants us to forget the £22 BILLION he wasted on ‘test, track and trace’. Why should we?

Not the NHS: Boris Johnson privatised the Covid-19 test and trace system, believing it would be a great advert for privatisation. Instead, it has become a millstone around his neck – so he is trying to forget about it, concentrating on his new project: messing up the vaccination programme.

Boris Johnson’s recent speeches make it clear that he is pinning all his hopes for the defeat of Covid-19 on the recently-approved vaccines. Some hope!

He seems to have a pathological urge to interfere. So after Pfizer made it clear that vaccination consists of two doses of the same drug, three weeks apart…

… Johnson had to stick his oar in and demand that the jabs must be three months apart. Then he said the second injection might be of a completely different vaccine that works in a completely different way (after Oxford/AstraZeneca was approved). Now he’s saying people might only get a single injection.

He’s chasing positive headlines and the approval ratings that he thinks will come with them if he’s able to show that large numbers of the population have been injected. Fat chance!

The issue here is immunisation, not injection. The people who have had the vaccine might as well have been injecting heroin for all the good it will do them if they don’t get the booster shot of the same vaccine three weeks later.

They certainly won’t be immune to Covid-19 – in any of its forms – if Johnson gets his way.

His obsession with the vaccine indicates that he has turned his back on what was formerly the Great White Hope of his anti-Covid campaign: test, track and trace.

No doubt he hopes we will all do the same. Again, fat chance:

In fact, Johnson has now spaffed £22 billion on the scheme which was handed to private companies including the discredited Serco under the government’s emergency procurement system (meaning there was no process to find the best possible choice), to be run by former jockey and failed businesswoman Dido Harding (who is ironically married to the Tories’ anti-corruption chief).

Johnson’s hope that this would be swept under the carpet is forlorn. We already know that the system has been a catastrophic failure. According to The Guardian,

The government’s test-and-trace programme to combat Covid-19 in England has repeatedly failed to meet targets for delivering test results and contacting infected people despite costs escalating to £22bn, a damning official report has revealed.

The National Audit Office (NAO) has found that the centralised programme is contacting two out of every three people who have been close to someone who has tested positive, with about 40% of test results delivered within 24 hours, well below the government’s targets.

The report said a target to provide results within 24 hours of in-person testing deteriorated to a low of 14% in mid-October before rising to 38% in early November.

Call handler contracts for those working on test and trace were worth up to £720m but many staff had very little to do, auditors said.

By 17 June, the utilisation rate – the proportion of time that someone actively worked during their paid hours – was 4% for health professionals and 1% for call handler staff, the report shows.

Utilisation rates remained well below a target of 50% throughout September and for much of October. This means substantial public resources have been spent on staff who provided minimal services in return.

Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak went on the record to say public borrowing has to be reined in after the huge amount of expenditure related to Covid-19. This was before Johnson announced the so-called “Lockdown 3” and he had to shake the Magic Money Tree for another £4.6 billion to help businesses survive the next seven weeks.

Perhaps he should take steps to claw back the UK public’s £22 billion that was thrown away on a “test, track and trace” system that not only did not work but, it seems, was never serious in even trying?

Perhaps he should claw back the hundreds of billions that he and Johnson spaffed on other contracts, using their now-notorious “fast-track” procurement system to hand huge contracts to relatives of Tory donors or personal friends running cowboy operations, while ignoring bids by people with genuine expertise?

But no. There’s no hope of that happening!

It would require common sense – and there’s no sign of that in the Johnson government.

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If this is how Boris Johnsons’s test and trace system works, no wonder he’s self-isolating

Test: wouldn’t it be nice of the Randox operation – if it can be called that – had been found to have been running in a professional way? It wasn’t.

If you still think the Johnson government is doing a good job fighting Covid-19, you need to watch Channel 4’s Lockdown Chaos now.

The programme by the channels Dispatches team went behind the scenes at Randox, one of the private companies selected by Boris Johnson’s privatisation-crazy cronies.

You’d think this place must be the best testing facility in the world, after Johnson’s insistence that his government would have a “world-beating” test-and-trace system, earlier in the year.

Not a bit of it!

According to Channel 4’s report on the programme, its undercover footage includes:

  • The Dispatches reporter being told that used tests sent to to Randox for analysis are sometimes not unpacked properly and accidentally discarded with cardboard packaging waste. An expert who viewed the footage and has run an NHS pathology lab for 10 year said that not only does this mean people not getting their test results, it would present a contamination risk to waste handlers. He added, “We would be shut down if we performed that way.” Randox responded to Dispatches, saying there has “never been an issue of samples being mistakenly disposed of”. Staff are adequately supervised and instructed on the need to ensure “samples are correctly processed”.

  • Evidence that one particular type of red-lidded test sent to Randox frequently leaks and has to be voided meaning no results are available. Randox is aware the red lidded tubes are “more likely to leak” but say they do not manufacture them.  They say they “raised this concern” with the Test and Trace programme coordinators in August. The DHSC told Dispatches on Saturday that they have “started UK-based tube manufacturing with these tubes designed to minimise leakage.” These “will be in place across all Lighthouse labs and will mitigate against void results.”

  • During the undercover operation, the Dispatches reporter discovers that although leaking samples are often spotted whilst still in their plastic bag, this is not always the case. He finds that leaks from  tests can spill over the gloves of employees and is told by one staff member that his gloves aren’t always thrown away but sprayed down with disinfectant. During his time in the lab, he was told to place leaking samples – whether loose or still inside their bags – into a cardboard box.  Randox says a leaking tube “is not removed” from its bagging “under any circumstances,” so claim there is “no cross contamination.” An expert told Dispatches that this way of dealing with leaking tubes shows a “cavalier approach to safety” and could lead to cross contamination and potentially wrong test results. Randox say the boxes are disposed of as “clinical waste” and there is “no cavalier approach to safety.”

    • Once used tests are received by Randox and unpacked, they are wiped with a cloth which is occasionally sprayed with disinfectant. Undercover footage shows the tubes being freely mixed together with other test tubes in a cardboard tray. Experts who have viewed this footage believe this process risks cross-contamination of test samples. Randox denies this, telling Dispatches there is “no cross contamination.” Samples are “not mixed together” but “immediately placed in an upward position on a rack”
    • The Dispatches reporter is told that Randox’s high-paying “VIP” clients, some of whom are from the rugby and travel sectors, are being given “priority” over some other tests. Randox denies VIP tests are given priority, saying it “does not prioritise private clients” under any circumstances and denies that “VIP” tests delay the processing of other tests.
    • Samples from England may take twelve hours or more to arrive at the Randox laboratory in Northern Ireland.  Unpacking of large shipments may take more than a working day, and sometimes more than 24 hours. Randox, which has no control over travel times to the laboratory, says it consistently “meets the agreed turnaround times,” and processes samples mostly within 24 hours from receipt.
    • The Dispatches reporter is told that samples are colour coded according to a traffic light system based on how long it is since the sample was taken. Randox told us green is up to 38 hours, amber up to 77 and red up to 114 hours – nearly five days.

There’s a lot more information in the C4 News article (link below). The effect on the public who use the social media has been galvanising:

This last tweet leads us to ask why the work was outsourced to cowboys.

Ah yes – that will be the answer.

The backlash has been overwhelming, the condemnation universal.

And what is the Tory government doing about it?

Source: Dispatches uncovers serious failings at one of UK’s largest COVID-Testing Labs | Channel 4

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U-turn again, Boris Johnson – every time you do, you lose more credibility

What he thinks we want to hear: Boris Johnson turns with the wind, as this excellent infographic from @dayvidart shows.

The continued support Boris Johnson enjoys from the UK public is becoming a constant surprise – especially as he is now u-turning several times a day.

It seems clear that he and his people are saying whatever they think they can get away with, according to the news agenda of the day – as Ian Dunt points out here:

When lockdown was imposed in March, we all had to work from home if we possibly could.

Then Johnson changed his mind in June and wanted us all to go back to the workplace and catch Covid-19 from our colleagues.

Now it is September and we’re all staying at home again. At this rate, he’ll have us back in the salt mines again around Christmas.

On the subject of staying at home or going somewhere, shall we discuss schools?

Here’s some footage of Johnson at the Commons Liaison Committee, saying that children readily transmit Covid-19 to adults.

But Adam Hamdy is right:

So Johnson – who said, only at the beginning of September, that it was “safe” to go back to school – has now reversed his position entirely. But it’s a bit late now:

In our houses, out of doors, in, out, shake-it-all-about… We wouldn’t need to do any of this if we had a decent Covid-19 test, track and trace system – but we don’t.

Johnson handed the contract for this to a private company – Serco – that has made a complete hash of it.

So he keeps calling it “NHS test-and-trace” instead, in the hope that nobody will remember it’s a privatised cock-up. Fat chance:

When the Department for Health and Social Care launched its contact tracing app (which version of that are we on now? Two or three?) the announcement stated that it would not carry out contact tracing.

Guess what? Another u-turn was on the way!

Here‘s The Independent:

No 10 has been left red-faced after wrongly saying the long-delayed NHS coronavirus app will not carry out contact-tracing – only to be slapped down by health officials.

The technology will finally be launched on Thursday – four months late – but without its original purpose, Downing Street had claimed, sparking fresh criticism.

But, within hours, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) issued a correction, insisting contact-tracing would be “at the heart of the NHS Covid-19 app”.

The fiasco over the four-month-delayed track-and-trace system led to uncomfortable moments for Johnson in the House of Commons where – as usual – he made a proper fool of himself:

If you’re having problems understanding what’s wrong with his words, see the following:

And here’s another thing: if the UK is such a freedom-loving country and those others aren’t, then why are we having to put up with endless – and constantly-varying – restrictions from Johnson while they are practically back to normal?

This idiot’s words stand on their heads!

For further proof – if you can believe it – Johnson actually said that contact tracing had nothing to do with the resurgence of Covid-19 in the UK:

Needless to say, the satirists have been having a field day:

I’m going to end with one that’s not related to the rest of the story but refers to Johnson’s intention to bring the armed forces onto our streets to enforce his ridiculous new restrictions on our freedoms. The point, I hope, is clear:

The UK may be a freedom-loving nation – but Boris Johnson doesn’t like it at all.

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Did Boris Johnson delay social gathering clampdown so that St Leger horse races can take place?

Dido Harding: Corrupt?

Is it really a coincidence that Boris Johnson’s new clampdown on social gatherings involving more than six people is to be imposed on Monday, allowing the St Leger horse racing festival to take place first?

Is it a coincidence that the St Leger is organised by the Jockey Club, which counts among its directors Dido Harding – who also happens to be in charge of the Serco (not NHS) Test and Trace fiasco?

Would it be more accurate to say that Ms Harding’s priority is the racing track, rather than Track and Trace?

People on Twitter certainly have their opinions about this:

While we’re discussing Test/Track/Trace, let’s remind ourselves that UK citizens have been forced to traipse around the country trying to get tests, as the Serco-run system for which Ms Harding is responsible has been unable to provide enough – even though (I hear on PMQs) 75,000 test kits are wasted every day.

Why isn’t Ms Harding doing the rounds of the studios explaining why we should not attribute the delay of the social gathering lockdown to her own corruption?

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Does failure of SERCO test-and-trace mean EVERY privatised Covid-19 project has failed?

Can you think of any Covid-19-related contracts the Johnson government has handed to private firms, that have actually succeeded?

I can’t.

They’ve all been spectacular failures, and this is just the latest:

Marcus is right about these private failures being hidden behind the NHS logo to make the public service look bad.

But the UK media won’t stop doing it because the UK media is complicit in the plan to privatise the NHS.

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