Expert calls for ‘missing’ Test and Protect data

A public health expert is calling on the Scottish government to release details on the number of people contacted by NHS Test and Protect.

Prof Linda Bauld believes the "missing" data is essential for researchers to check the system is working.

After schools reopened, and the infection rate appeared to rise, pressure is mounting to prove the system can fulfil its role.

The figures were promised before pupils returned to school.

The Scottish government says they will now be available at the end of August.

Prof Bauld, from Edinburgh University, has said that failure to publish the data showed a lack of transparency on the government's part.

Speaking on Good Morning Scotland on Friday, she said it was the "missing piece" of the jigsaw.

'Confidence in the system'

She said: "The data published so far only contains number of close contacts successfully traced and spoken to, but what it doesn't contain is the proportion of contacts not reached.

"I want to see all the data to understand what's going on. All we have at the moment is the number of people who have been tested and the number of people who are contacts.

"We don't know the proportion of people that are being followed up, how long it is taking to do that and we don't know what happens to those people who are followed up.

"We need to see all of that data to be confident the system is working as it should be."

She believes the government has that level of information after the first minister revealed that during the Aberdeen outbreak, a significant portion of contacts were traced within a day and all the contacts were found within three days.

The professor said that Scotland has done "extremely well" on other areas of the data but outlined the information she would also like to see published.

'Aim to be better'

"What I would like to see, is the proportion of contacts reported by index case, so that's the person who tested positive, that have been successfully reached, so that's that percentage," she said.

"Also the time taken to reach the individual, that's crucial because to shut down the chains of transmission it needs to be rapid and I'd also like to see whether follow-up occurs for those who are asked to isolate.

"Finally, and this is probably optional but would be interesting, whether cases have been symptomatic or not because there's routine testing in care homes and in the NHS and of course those people will have contacts as well so let's aim to be even better than the countries that are currently reporting that data and give all of that data, not just to researchers like me but to the public as well."

Research published in the Lancet last week suggests that testing schemes should be reaching more than 68% of close contacts if schools were to re-open.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said the government was working hard to ensure the efficiency of the Test and Protect system.

He told the BBC: "When that data is available, and available in a form that can be verified, then of course we would release that data. This government has released data throughout this pandemic to be as transparent as possible."

Questioned on why schools have reopened without information on the proportion of contacts traced being known, he said: "We would not take any gamble or any risk when it comes to young people's education. In facRead More – Source

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