Skip to main content

Will test and trace strategy work? Do data ethics affect pandemic response?

3 July 2020

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee will question the leaders of the test and trace strategy, and then hear from experts about data usage, privacy and ethics.

Purpose of session

The evidence session will follow on from evidence taken on contact tracing last week, as the committee seeks to gain more clarity over the Government's change of strategy in relation to test and trace. The first evidence session will investigate the effectiveness of the test and trace strategy, including the impacts of the recent decisions to change the role of the app. 

This will be followed by a session with experts to hear about the use of data in the pandemic, including for surveys, “immunity passports”, and the test and trace system. The Committee will focus on issues of privacy and ethics.


Monday 6 July at 3.00pm: Contact Tracing Strategy

Virtual meeting

  • Baroness Harding of Winscombe, Chair, NHS Improvement
  • Simon Thompson, Managing Director of the NHS COVID-19 App, NHS Test and Trace, Department of Health and Social Care

At 4.00pm: Data usage in the pandemic, including privacy and ethics

  • Iain Bell, Deputy National Statistician for Population and Public Policy, Office of National Statistics (ONS)
  • Dr Michael Veale, Lecturer in Digital Rights and Regulation, UCL; and Digital Charter Fellow, Alan Turing Institute
  • Hugh Whittall, Director, Nuffield Council on Bioethics

Possible questions

  • How did the Government decide on the test and trace strategy it has put in place?
  • How important will a contract tracing app be as part of the test and trace strategy?
  • Can the test and trace system be effective at containing the epidemic when a significant proportion of cases are not being diagnosed, and their contacts are not being traced?
  • What strategies are needed to retain public trust in the collection and use of data during the pandemic, both by the Government and the private sector?
  • What were the privacy and data security concerns around contact tracing apps?
  • What are the ethical implications of widespread antibody testing for the purpose of providing certifications of immunity ("immunity passports")?

Further information