UK Test and Trace system loses 50,000 contacts


In October UK health officials discovered that limitations on the number of rows on an older version of Microsoft’s spreadsheet software Excel led the system to miss 16,000 positive coronavirus tests and fail to alert an estimated 50,000 people who had been in close contact with them that they should quarantine. About half of the missed cases are thought to have been in northwest England, where infection rates were already rising. The government’s science advisors recommended revamping the testing system so that NHS and care staff would be tested in hospital and university laboratories. The unwillingness to invest in better systems often leads organisations to unknowingly rely on small numbers of employees who keep the system running via workarounds that aren’t really fit for purpose.


Writer: Josh Halliday, Peter Walker and Denis Campbell; Rachel Coldicutt
Publication: Guardian; Medium