Vials of COVID-19 vaccine

Importance of test and trace being forgotten amid vaccine excitement, say scientists

Independent Sage urges government to do more to support people isolating.
07 January 2021 , Katie Coyne

Too much focus is being placed on lockdowns and vaccinating people against COVID-19 in England when test and trace is still very much needed, Independent Sage said.

The group of scientists advocates a ‘find, test, trace, isolate and support’ system. Dr Zubaida Haque, who is a member, warned that the Westminster government was placing too much emphasis on vaccination and lockdown.

She said that more work was needed around test and trace in England, particularly around supporting those quarantining in order to keep virus levels low. Haque argued many people needed support to isolate and pointed out that £2m people were still not eligible for statutory sick pay.

Haque told BBC's Newsnight on Tuesday (5 January 2021): “We're focusing only on vaccination, and only on lockdown, just as the Prime Minister has. Independent Sage would argue – and have argued consistently – that those things should not be the only two things… What we also need to do is improve the contact tracing and the support for self-isolation."

She added: “If the government focused on the ‘find, test, trace, isolate and support’, and it's the isolation and support – the supported isolation – that matters the most, that is also going to get us out of this pandemic because that will suppress the virus.”


An image of a virus

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