Covid live: UK records 207 deaths and 43,941 new cases; infections surging across eastern Europe

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UK deaths are up compared to last Wednesday; Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Bulgaria all seeing cases surging

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Following up on those comments, Dame Meg Hillier has been on the BBC this morning, saying that the Conservative government’s test and trace programme treated taxpayers as if they were an ATM. PA Media quote her saying:

There was a lot of gung-ho confidence from No 10 that we would have a ‘moonshot’ towards mass testing. Those messages kept getting more optimistic. Baroness Harding was also very optimistic about what they achieved.

But in the end it massively over-promised for what it delivered and it was eye-watering sums of money.

The national Test & Trace programme was allocated eye watering sums of taxpayers’ money in the midst of a global health and economic crisis. It set out bold ambitions but has failed to achieve them despite the vast sums thrown at it. Only 14% of 691m lateral flow tests sent out had results reported, and who knows how many took the necessary action based on the results they got, or how many were never used. The continued reliance on the over-priced consultants who “delivered” this state of affairs will by itself cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds. For this huge amount of money we need to see a legacy system ready to deliver when needed but it’s just not clear what there will be to show in the long term. This legacy has to be a focus for government if we are to see any value for the money spent.

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