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Why Covid-19 testing and tracing is the most urgent challenge for the UK

The only certain route out of lockdown is to reduce the level of community transmission. 

By Stephen Bush

Will there be a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of the year? We don’t know. What are the long-term health effects of having the novel coronavirus on those who get it? We don’t know. Is long-term immunity from the disease even possible? We don’t know. Could the novel coronavirus vanish unexpectedly? We don’t know. Are schools significant vectors of infection? We don’t know.

What we do know is that the impact of school closures is uneven – it falls particularly heavily on the disadvantaged. So you can argue the case on schools either way – should you wait for more information or rush to reopen them as soon as is practicable? And what does as soon as is practicable mean in any case?

What we know is that the only certain way out of lockdown is to be able to reduce the rate of community transmission and to test, trace and isolate new cases – and getting capacity right for that challenge is more important or urgent than practically everything else. 

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Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team. The best way to sign up for The Green Transition is via spotlightonpolicy.substack.com
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