November 10, 2020 1.45 pm This story is over 41 months old

Lincolnshire health bosses to get new test & trace powers

Optimism over vaccine, but not before Christmas

Lincolnshire’s public health body will get new powers to carry out more localised test and tracing.

Lincolnshire County Council’s assistant director of public health Tony McGinty said work was due to start on some cases from later this week.

It means local health officials will have access to some of the systems the national programme uses.

“We will start by acting in partnership with them and we’re still in conversations about how much of that we do,” said Mr McGinty.

“We’ll be either in support of the national organisations or we might take on more of a role than that for local people.”

He said it was “definitely a step forward” to further work once the trial was over.

Bosses have argued for more control over test and trace for a while, and their campaigning has paid off.

They say this will enable them to increase the number of close contacts being reached following positive results due to the use of local knowledge and trust, which isn’t necessarily there for national systems.

Lincolnshire County Council’s assistant director of public health Tony McGinty.

Mr McGinty added that it would enable them to better manage local outbreaks due to the use of real-time data.

Otherwise, Mr McGinty said he was “optimistic” about the early success rate of a new vaccine.

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer on Monday said its vaccine is efficient in 90% of subjects, however, Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his daily briefing warned there were more hurdles to jump before it could be rolled out fully.

Mr McGinty agreed it was a really good milestone, but warned the vaccine was “not going to save us this winter”.

He said there was more work to be done, particularly on the effectiveness on the older population and warned people to “focus on the timeline”.

“Clearly there won’t be enough doses for everybody to have it immediately,” he said, adding that if he “were a betting man” he would say the most vulnerable people will get it first, along with frontline services.

“Don’t expect to see much offer of vaccine until after Christmas,” he said, adding that even then people will still need two doses and a 28-day period before the vaccine would take effect.

“So you can see it doesn’t take long to plot out, that we’ll be towards the end of the winter by the time we’ve got many people with all of those things in place,” he said.