Categories
Opinion

Opting out of NHS Test and Trace

According to government guidelines, the public will be asked to provide their names and phone numbers to the venues and businesses they visit from Saturday 4th July 2020.

Be aware that this is done on a voluntary basis. You are under no legal obligation to leave your details or provide correct information. The business should not refuse to serve you if you do not wish to provide your information.

The relevant section of the government guidelines is shown below.

Source: Department of Health and Social Care Guidance, 2 July 2020

The complete text for the guidelines can be found in a document that can be downloaded from the GOV.UK website: Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace

Information collected

If you choose to provide information as a customer, government guidelines state that only the following details should be collected:

  • The name of the customer or visitor. If there is more than one person, then you can record the name of the ‘lead member’ of the group and the number of people in the group.
  • A contact phone number for each customer or visitor, or for the lead member of a group of people.
  • Date of visit, arrival time and, where possible, departure time.
  • If a customer will interact with only one member of staff (e.g. a hairdresser), the name of the assigned staff member should be recorded alongside the name of the customer.

Booking and reservation information

The information you provide when making a booking or reservation may be shared with NHS Test and Trace. If you do not wish your details to be used for this purpose, you should inform the business that you wish to opt out of NHS Test and Trace.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

NHS Test and Trace is subject to GDPR. This means that the business is legally obliged to handle your details in accordance with the regulation. However, be aware that under GDPR, the business is not required to:

  • Individually inform customers about how their information will be used.
  • Seek consent to collect data from individual customers.

If in doubt, make sure you explicitly inform management that you are opting out and any details you provide should not be used for NHS Test and Trace.

Why you should opt out of NHS Test and Trace

While we cannot give you advice about leaving your contact details, we believe that opting out of NHS Test and Trace is the right thing to do. This is because:

  1. The tests for COVID-19 are known to be inaccurate, resulting in high false positives and false negatives.
  2. These inaccurate results may be used to justify local lock-downs which will have a severely negative impact on your area.
  3. You will be traced and told self-isolate if anyone you have been in contact with during your visit tests positive, even if it is a false positive.
  4. The tracing system rollout was rushed and did not complete mandatory privacy checks. NHS Test and Trace is facing a legal challenge because it does not have strong enough safeguards.
  5. Your data will be held for 20 years. There is no way to know how the information collected about you will be used by a future political administration.
Categories
Publications

Impact of false positives and negatives, 3 June 2020 – Government Office for Science

The UK operational false positive rate is unknown. There are no published studies on the operational false positive rate of any national COVID-19 testing programme.

An attempt has been made to estimate the likely false-positive rate of national COVID-19 testing programmes by examining data from published external quality assessments (EQAs) for RT-PCR assays for other RNA viruses carried out between 2004-2019 [7]. Results of 43 EQAs were examined, giving a median false positive rate of 2.3% (interquartile range 0.8-4.0%).

Alistair Haimes interpreted these results in this way:

2.3% false positive rate with 0.04% virus prevalence rate (ONS) means that if you test positive you have only a 4/234= 1.7% chance of being infected. We’re flying blind.

if the false positive rate is that high, surely they just know that it is ‘about nothing’; 0.04% must be false precision?

@AlistairHaimes. 3 July 2020

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/gos-impact-of-false-positives-and-negatives-3-june-2020

Categories
Publications

Officially-reported COVID-19 deaths in Ireland likely overestimates – HIQA

HIQA found that the officially-reported COVID-19 deaths likely overestimates the true burden of excess deaths caused by the virus. This could be due to the inclusion within official figures of people who were infected with SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) at the time of death whose cause of death may have been predominantly due to other factors.

https://www.hiqa.ie/hiqa-news-updates/covid-19-causes-13-increase-deaths-ireland-between-march-and-june-2020-hiqa

Categories
Publications

Sir David Norgrove response to Matt Hancock regarding the Government’s COVID-19 testing data – UK Statistics Authority

The way the data are analysed and presented currently gives them limited value for the first purpose [of understanding the epidemic]. The aim seems to be to show the largest possible number of tests, even at the expense of understanding. It is also hard to believe the statistics work to support the testing programme itself. The statistics and analysis serve neither purpose well.

Categories
Opinion

Coronavirus doesn’t care about politics – UnHerd

So as you read, in coming weeks, furious news stories about technical incompetence, citizen non-compliance, threats of stricter enforcement and blame in all directions, as if everything was hanging on the latest government policy, remember the humility of scientists instead of the solipsism of the political class. Yes, the Government action plan will most likely be ineffective, but politicians were never in charge of this anyway. It’s bigger than they are — the best they could ever hope to do is tinker around the edges. Coronavirus is nobody’s ‘fault’.

Categories
Opinion

I’ve signed death certificates during Covid-19. Here’s why you can’t trust any of the statistics on the number of victims – Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, RT

As an NHS doctor, I’ve seen people die and be listed as a victim of coronavirus without ever being tested for it. But unless we have accurate data, we won’t know which has killed more: the disease or the lockdown?

It matters greatly for two main reasons. First, if we vastly overestimate deaths from Covid-19, we will greatly underestimate the harm caused by the lockdown. This issue was looked at in a recent article published in the BMJ, The British Medical Journal.  It stated: “Only a third of the excess deaths seen in the community in England and Wales can be explained by Covid-19.

If Covid-19 killed 30,000, and lockdown killed the other 30,000, then the lockdown was a complete and utter waste of time. and should never happen again. The great fear is that this would be a message this government does not want to hear – so they will do everything possible not to hear it.

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/490006-death-certificates-covid-19-do-not-trust/

Categories
News

Government coronavirus contact tracing site CRASHES within minutes of launching as staff reveal first shift has been a ‘complete shambles’ – Daily Mail

The government’s coronavirus contact tracing site crashed on launch this morning amid complaints it has been a ‘complete shambles’.

Doctors and other staff reported major teething troubles as the much-trumpeted scheme finally got up and running, with some saying they had not even received passwords to start work.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8364799/Matt-Hancock-LAUGHS-suggestion-rushed-contact-tracing-scheme.html

Categories
News

Health regulator tells laboratories to STOP analysing all samples from Covid-19 home antibody tests – Daily Mail

US CDC that antibody tests for Covid-19 may be wrong up to half of the time.

The CDC now warns antibody testing is not accurate enough for it to be used for any policy-making decisions, as even with high test specificity, ‘less than half of those testing positive will truly have antibodies’.

There is currently a high level of inaccuracy in the testing, however, caused by how uncommon the virus is within the population.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8358729/Health-regulator-tells-laboratories-STOP-analysing-samples-Covid-19-home-antibody-tests.html

Categories
News

Revealed: 90,000 ‘void’ UK Covid tests – The Spectator

Currently, over 8 per cent of people who were tested in ‘pillar two’ have been told that their test result is ‘unclear’. Pillar two is the strand of the government’s testing strategy that deals with at-home tests and those carried out at drive-through centres. This pillar is designed for certain key workers and those who have been randomly selected for testing.

Yet the NHS instructions given to Sarah make clear that while the test might be ‘uncomfortable’, patients should stop if they ‘feel strong resistance or pain’. In other words, she was told to stop swabbing if it hurt. The tests may be accurate in a clinical setting but the problem comes when people are expected to try to carry out the procedure themselves in the real world. 

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/revealed-90-000-void-uk-covid-tests

Categories
News Opinion

‘R’ rate is less reliable than a weather forecast – Dr. John Lee, Daily Mail

  • Keeping R below one is not the only way to map a route out of lockdown.
  • R is an artificial construct and not even a number we know with any certainty.
  • R is calculated using mathematical models which have repeatedly been found to reach wrong-headed conclusions.
  • R is not a strong enough number to bear the burden of any Government policy.
  • Epidemiology models share the same serious problem as meteorology because of weak data.
  • Lack of testing means we don’t know how many people have been infected, or have recovered.
  • Changes to death certification during this epidemic mean that we genuinely don’t even know how many people have died as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • It is becoming increasingly clear that assumptions central to the models that generate R are flawed.
  • Worries that R was apparently heading back towards one were missing the point. For some segments of society, including most people of working age, that would be a good thing.
  • Another implication of seeing R this way, which is quite a relief, is that social distancing can be consigned to the dustbin of bizarre historical episodes.
  • R is calculated in ways that the Government can produce at will to justify a policy that is no longer tenable.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8326857/DR-JOHN-LEE-says-R-rate-reliable-weather-forecast.html

Categories
News

U.K. Paid $20 Million for New Coronavirus Tests. They Didn’t Work. – The New York Times

“The two Chinese companies were offering a risky proposition: two million home test kits said to detect antibodies for the coronavirus for at least $20 million, take it or leave it.

The asking price was high, the technology was unproven and the money had to be paid upfront. And the buyer would be required to pick up the crate loads of test kits from a facility in China.

Yet British officials took the deal, according to a senior civil servant involved, then confidently promised tests would be available at pharmacies in as little as two weeks.”

Rapid antibody tests “have limited utility” for patients, the World Health Organization warned in an April 8 statement, telling doctors that such tests remained unfit for clinical purposes until they were proved to be accurate and effective.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/16/world/europe/coronavirus-antibody-test-uk.html

Categories
News

Tanzania coronavirus kits raise suspicion after goat and pawpaw test positive – Independent

Covid-19 test kits in Tanzania have raised suspicion after samples taken from a goat and a pawpaw fruit came back with positive results, as the president said there were “technical errors”.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/coronavirus-tanzania-test-kits-suspicion-goat-pawpaw-positive-a9501291.html

Categories
Opinion

Coronavirus: surprisingly big problems caused by small errors in testing – The Conversation

In short, far more people will receive false-positive results than true-positive results. Up to 60% of those released back into the workforce could be at risk of infection themselves and unknowingly spreading the disease to others, sparking a second wave of the epidemic. If the true prevalence of the disease in the population is as low as 1% then this figure could rise to 80%.

Understanding the startling rates of false positives and false negatives for tests that seem, on the surface, to be quite accurate could have profound consequences for health policy as we travel deeper into this pandemic. Failing to do our mathematical due diligence has the potential to take us past the tipping point beyond which the epidemic starts to grow again, leading to even more avoidable deaths.

https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-surprisingly-big-problems-caused-by-small-errors-in-testing-136700

Categories
News

Covid-19 antibody tests face a very specific problem

With the prevalence of coronavirus infection running at about 5%, test manufacturers and regulators alike will have to guard against false positives.

https://www.evaluate.com/vantage/articles/analysis/spotlight/covid-19-antibody-tests-face-very-specific-problem

Categories
News

Revealed: NHS staff given flawed coronavirus tests – The Telegraph

Coronavirus tests given to thousands of NHS staff so they could return to work have been found to be flawed and should no longer be relied on, a leaked document reveals. 

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/04/21/public-health-england-admits-coronavirus-tests-used-send-nhs/

Categories
News

Problems with PHE’s Covid-19 tests raise serious questions over UK’s coronavirus response – The Telegraph

A memo sent by PHE’s senior lab team flags up several concerns about the tests, despite the fact hundreds of thousands have been carried out

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/04/21/problems-phes-covid-19-tests-raise-serious-questions-uks-coronavirus/

Categories
News Opinion

The Corona Simulation Machine: Why the Inventor of The “Corona Test” Would Have Warned Us Not To Use It To Detect A Virus

We’ve been hijacked by our technologies, but left illiterate about what they actually mean. In this case, I am in the rare position of having known, spent time with, and interviewed the inventor of the method used in the presently available Covid-19 tests, which is called PCR, (Polymerase Chain Reaction.)

Categories
News

NHS using ‘flawed’ COVID-19 test – missing 25% of positives – OpenDemocracy

NHS laboratories are using a flawed test for coronavirus, according to a leaked Public Health England document seen by openDemocracy. Experts warn that the test fails to detect up to 25% of positive COVID-19 results.

Although the current test is known to be inconsistent, NHS labs are nonetheless being advised to continue using it, while an urgent “migration” or shift to a commercially available test takes place.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/opendemocracyuk/exclusive-nhs-using-flawed-covid-19-test-missing-25-of-positives/

Categories
Publications

Discrepancies between Antigen and Polymerase Chain Reaction Tests for the Detection of Rotavirus and Norovirus – PubMed (2016)

We compared the results of an antigen test (ELISA) with those of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for the detection of rotavirus and norovirus in stool specimens. Rotavirus and norovirus antigen-positive stool specimens were collected, and rotavirus and norovirus PCRs were performed on these specimens. Of the 325 rotavirus antigen-positive specimens, 200 were positive for both assays and 125 were PCR negative. Of 286 norovirus antigen-positive specimens, 51 were PCR negative. Comparison of the lower limit of detection showed that rotavirus PCR was 16 times more sensitive and norovirus PCR was over 4,000 times more sensitive than the ELISA. Discrepant results between ELISA and PCR were common, and the possibility of false-positive and false-negative results should be considered with rotavirus and norovirus assays.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27312553

Categories
News

Covid19 Death Figures “A Substantial Over-Estimate” – Off-Guardian