NHS COVID-19: Jeremy Vine panellists clash over app
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Following a record number of people being “pinged” by the NHS’ track and trace app this week, Jeremy Vine and his Channel 5 panel debated whether the app was still relevant and built for purpose. As Covid cases continue to rise and the easing of restrictions still penned for July 19, Jeremy, Mike Parry and Owen Jones discussed whether the need for people to self-isolate in the wake of the vaccine rollout was still necessary given the jabs’ efficacy amongst those who’ve received both doses. And it didn’t take long for Mike and Owen’s passionate stances to boil over into a fiery row.
“It’s gotta be turned off because it’s wrecking the country,” Mike exclaimed as Jeremy turned to him for his input.
“I mean you’ve just told us about the Nissan plant, the Rolls Royce plant has closed down, right, dramatic productions like Bridgerton are stopping because people are coming up.
“My bins are in danger of not being collected because down in Surrey, they haven’t got enough drivers to drive the garbage trucks.
“This is wrecking the country,” Mike continued to rant but he wasn’t done there in his opposition against the track and trace system.
Mike continued: “But the thing about this right, we have a thing called Sat Nav in our cars, imagine if the Sat Nav went mad and starting making cars crash into each other because the whole system was flawed and not working,
“That is exactly what this system is,” Mike added and as Owen tried to butt in, Mike shut him down: “Owen it is! It doesn’t work, it’s recklessly useless, wrecking people’s lives, it’s badly damaging the economy and we’ve got to get rid of it and I will turn mine off.”
Trying to offer an opposing view, Owen weighed in: “It’s obviously inconvenient for people –
“It’s more than inconvenient, it’s destroying the country,” Mike protested as Owen countered: “It’s not destroying the country, if we talk about destroying the country, 150,000 people have died, that’s as destructive as something gets.
“And that’s three times more than the Nazis managed in the Blitz. Look, we’ve just got to be aware of the cost-benefit of what we do.”
“I don’t think there are any benefits!” Mike slapped down before Owen tried to defend his stance: “If you have 40,000-50,000 cases a day, they’re going to come in contact with a huge percentage of people -“
Mike interrupted once more against Owen’s claims: “But a huge percentage of people who’ve been pinged are not ill!”
Continuing his point, Owen argued: “That goes up to 100,000 a day which is where we may well be heading and they get in contact with the same number of people that’s even more people being pinged -“
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At this point, it was Jeremy’s turn to argue against Owen’s stance, pointing out: “But that’s almost an argument against it?”
Mike agreed: “There’s no guarantee that someone who’s been pinged has got a problem. The algorithm is completely useless.”
“No, no, I’m just saying we’ve got a cost-benefit,” Owen tried to explain. “The fact is what the government has done is say we’re gonna open and end all restrictions, we’ve already opened up the economy to a huge degree.
“The cost of that is cases will go up and more people will have to self-isolate. The truth is if we don’t get a lid on this in the coming weeks, my worry is – and Chris Whitty has already alluded to this – they will impose further restrictions and we’ll go backwards.”
Owen concluded: “The best way of avoiding more restrictions is for people to self-isolate if they’ve been pinged. Some will be false!”
Jeremy then quizzed Owen on a time in December when he had to isolate after being notified by the app, although he admitted he had no idea where the contact was made as it “may have been a cab” ride.
Mike interjected once more to ask if Owen tested himself after his ping and when he replied he hadn’t, the broadcaster ranted: “You see, this system was designed before we had the vaccine!
“It was designed to protect us when we didn’t have vaccines! It’s not necessary now! We don’t need it.”
Owen tried to hit back by referring to the rising case numbers before Mike slapped him down again: “The NHS is not under threat.”
Jeremy Vine airs weekdays at 9:15am on Channel 5.
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