However, statisticians at University College London (UCL) said even this figure is likely to flatter the system, with its true effectiveness unknown because the Government does not publish key information. This includes the proportion of close contacts told to isolate who actually comply.
The new dashboard reveals that the number of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 but then failed to hand over details for people they have come into close contact with has risen nearly three-fold. In the week up to September the number was 4,360, but two weeks later it was 11,800.
The proportion had gone down slightly, however, from 16.8 to 15.09 per cent.
The new tool, named Covid Red, collates and presents data from the Office of National Statistics, Public Health England and the NHS under five categories intended to give a true reflection of how well the fight against Covid is going. These are find, test, track, isolate and support.
Professor Christina Pagel, one of the architects of the dashboard, said: “We don’t know what percentage of people with symptoms for the positive tests are actually isolating for the full amount of time, and we don’t know that about their contacts – and that is really important, because if people aren’t isolating, then it’s [Test and Trace] window dressing.”
The research team hopes the dashboard can be used to identify any stages in the find, test, track, isolate and support system that need urgent improvements and enable more informed public discussion. They said the public’s ability to understand the true course of the pandemic and the best measures to take has been stymied by the fact that much of the most useful data is up to two weeks old by the time it is published.
They said “real-time information” should be prioritised in order to “inform and support the necessary responses, including regional or local lockdowns”
“Increasing volumes of data are being shown in the media and in Government press conferences as a basis for local tightening of restrictions,” said Prof Pagel. “However, this data is often from disparate sources, and not linked together to give a more complete picture of how we are doing.
“This was the motivation behind our dashboard development.”