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Lords to quiz leaders of new test and trace strategy

On Monday, the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee will quiz Baroness Harding and Simon Thompson on the recent overhaul of the contact tracing strategy.

The evidence session will follow on from evidence taken on contact tracing last week, as the committee seeks to gain more clarity over the Government's change of strategy in relation to test and trace.
The evidence session will investigate the effectiveness of the test and trace strategy, including the impacts of the recent decisions to reduce the role of the app.
This will be followed by a session with experts to hear about the use of data in the pandemic, including issues of privacy and ethics.
Summaries from the committee's previous evidence sessions as part of their inquiry into ‘The Science of COVID-19' are being made available here.
3pm: Contact Tracing Strategy
Giving evidence will be:

  • Baroness Harding of Winscombe, Chair, NHS Improvement
  • Simon Thompson, Managing Director of the NHS COVID-19 App, NHS Test and Trace, Department of Health and Social Care

Questions will include:

  • How did the Government decide on the test and trace strategy it has put in place?
  • How important will a contract tracing app be as part of the test and trace strategy?
  • What proportion of people who have tested positive have been successfully contacted so far, and how quickly have they been contacted?
  • Can the test and trace system be effective at containing the epidemic when a significant proportion of cases are not being diagnosed, and their contacts are not being traced?
  • Does the test and trace strategy emphasise clearly enough the "isolation" element, and how are you monitoring levels of compliance with self-isolation requests?
  • What challenges were uncovered during the trial of the app, and what lessons have been learnt for developing a future version of the app

4pm: Data usage in the pandemic, including privacy and ethics
Giving evidence will be:

  • Iain Bell, Deputy National Statistician for Population and Public Policy, Office of National Statistics (ONS)
  • Dr Michael Veale, Lecturer in Digital Rights and Regulation, UCL; and Digital Charter Fellow, Alan Turing Institute
  • Hugh Whittall, Director, Nuffield Council on Bioethics

Questions will include:

  • What types of data are being collected to help manage the pandemic, and what organisations are involved in handling this data?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of the centralized approach to data for the test and trace system in England?
  • What are the ethical implications of widespread antibody testing for the purpose of providing certifications of immunity ("immunity passports")?
  • What were the privacy and data security concerns around contact tracing apps?
  • What strategies are needed to retain public trust in the collection and use of data during the pandemic, both by the Government and the private sector?

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