16:54 GMT19 October 2020
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    The temporary loss of data relating to 16,000 positive cases of COVID-19 has raised serious concerns about the operation of the UK’s test and trace system.

    Darrin Baines, Professor of Health Economics at Bournemouth University spoke to us about how effectively the UK government has handled the pandemic.

    Sputnik: How successful do you think the UK’s Track and Trace system has been?

    Dr Darrin Baines: I think it's successful in the sense that the UK has a track and trace system. I think that's a very successful thing that the government's achieved. I think it's useful. I think that it's a good thing to do. I think that it won't solve the problem to the extent that we need it solved. But it creates information. So it's been successful in the fact that it exists. What its useful for in terms of achieving, particularly as the pandemic grows over the winter will be interesting to see. But yeah, it's useful, it's been set up, whether it works well, well, that's a different question. It's there. And they've done well. But whether it solves the problem is a different question. 

    Sputnik: What do you think of the UK government's response to the pandemic in comparison to other countries such as New Zealand?

    Dr Darrin Baines: Well, this is really interesting, because I go on Facebook and talk to people on the street. Everybody's got an opinion. And we're just swamped with how good is the government doing? I think my perspective on it is quite simple. Every country is creating a new reality. In New Zealand, they've done very well, you know, they've created a new reality, but what do they do going forward?

    How do they open New Zealand up? You know, do we, you know, have we done well in the UK, but we will never have pubs or cinemas again. And I think the government's response is good. But I think what it's doing is creating new realities. And those new realities are not actually solving COVID they're actually changing social behaviour. So in all of this, no country has actually dealt with COVID. You know, COVID doesn't know that the government's doing this, it hasn't had any effect, what it's done is just change people's behaviour. And if that behaviour changes back, we have the same problem.

    Sputnik: In your article, he spoke about managing uncertainty. How do you think politicians are handling this pressure?

    Dr Darrin Baines: Okay, so it's quite simple in life, we like certainty. You know, we like traffic lights, we like rules, we like to queue. I think what the government's doing is, it's trying to give the electorate certainty, you know, when, at question time, you know, the questions are, how certain are you about what you're doing? The answer is, nobody knows. And if the government is trying to create certainty, it's putting a lot of effort into reassuring people that they know what it's doing. The answer is nobody knows really what to do.

    I think it's a political manoeuvre to say, Yes, we are doing things that we know will work. There's no evidence base to this. There's no evidence base for anything, because COVID has only been happening for six months, and we don't have real evidence about how it will pan out. So yes, the government's doing well about creating certainty. But what it's not doing, I think is going to people this is just massively uncertain. It's very similar to Brexit, you know, they created a certainty this will happen. Look at the uncertainty that actually we're faced in trying to do something about it.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    pandemic, coronavirus, COVID-19
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