An alternative strategy to suppress Covid
KONP calls for an alternative strategy in which testing and tracing are put back into the hands of local public health teams and there is proper funding to help people isolate. Like Independent Sage, we don’t favour more lockdowns and restrictions but proper measures to help people protect themselves from the virus. We are working at a local level to persuade city and district councils to pass motions calling on their county council to run test and trace themselves. A number of councils have passed such motions, for instance, Oxford and Lambeth, and these can be downloaded from this page by campaigners and party members who are seeking to do the same in their local area. Proper government funding is needed for this.
In the film below, five powerful speakers, including Anneliese Dodds MP and Layla Moran MP, explain why local test and trace would help us suppress Covid and get back to normal sooner rather than later.
Many more scientists as well as local MPs and councillors agree that locally run test and trace services are much more likely to succeed in helping to bring infection rates under control. The failures of private company SERCO to contact the people who had been close-contacts of those diagnosed with COVID-19 have been well documented.
Independent SAGE has published a ‘blueprint’ for contract-tracing, proposing a five-stage process of finding, testing, tracing, isolating and supporting those isolating in order to reduce infection rates.
Oxford Council then adopted a motion for full control of contact-tracing to be taken on board by local authorities in November and subsequently two other Oxfordshire councils have debated similar motions.
Campaigners have launched a video (above) calling on other local areas to launch their own campaigns, and demand local authorities run local contact-tracing services. They are asking: “Who is more likely to persuade a ‘contact’ to isolate – someone from a national call centre that usually deals with debt collecting – or someone from the council at your door offering practical support?”
Councillor Louise Upton of Oxford City Council says in the video: “We are in lockdown again. We are in lockdown as not enough people who tested positive for COVID-19 were tested, contacted and supported to stay at home. And that support to stay at home is absolutely crucial for the whole system to work.” Didcot Town Council passed a similar motion March 1st 2021.
So far Lambeth has passed a similar motion and campaigners hope that they can persuade other local councils in London to do the same, with the aim of London region coordinating the local systems. so local testing can be organised regionally. ZeroCovid and WeOwnIt campaigns also back the Crush Covid demands. Twenty more councils are set to consider similar motions thanks to WeOwnIt’s work.
Campaigner Liz Peretz says in the video: “We hope that other areas in the country will set up similar campaigns, some we know already have. Together we can get the Government to change its minds.”
Local Action in other parts of England
Motions calling for proper funding for local test and trace have been passed by these councils: Lambeth
What would a local test and trace system look like?
Independent Sage’s Blue Print is a good start. The system would be co-ordinated by NHS England and run by directors of public health. It would include:
Ask your MP to demand proper funding for local, public test and trace from Matt Hancock
Letter to your MP (you can download the letter here). The letter can be changed, added to, as you wish.
What the experts say
Watch these short videos of experts explaining why local test and trace is best and how we can push for it.
Professor Allyson Pollock, Director of the Newcastle Centre for Excellence in Regulatory Science
Councillor Katherine Tyson, Cherwell District Council, Liberal Democrat
Dr Hosnieh Djafari-Marbini, consultant anaesthetist and councillor on Oxford City Council, Labour Party
Councillor Ian Middleton, Cherwell District Councillor, Green Party
Dr Helen Salisbury, prominent Oxford GP and broadcaster
Further information and useful links
Independent SAGE A group of scientists and experts, whose blueprint for a properly funded Find, Test, Trace and Support to Isolate system is widely supported, including by Crush Covid
Article by Prof. Stephen Reicher of Independent SAGE explaining why it’s not enough to wait for the vaccine and setting out the five-point plan proposed by Independent SAGE