Tuesday 6 October 2020

Day 204 of self-isolation - Another shambles - uncounted cases

Another shambles - uncounted cases

16,000 cases of Covid went missing. For example, October 2 figures were 6868, and should have been 4786 more. This isn't just a statistics shambles, it also means that 4786 people did not have their contacts identified and notified. The whole point of test and trace is to be able to do that, and if you don't trace, the people who should have been contacted, aren't told, and if they were infected, will be out in the community merrily spreading the virus.

And how did this happen?

An Excel spreadsheet reached its maximum file size, so the automated process could no longer add more names. The maximum file size is 2 gb. If there are a million people in the database, and each person uses 2 kb of data, then you've hit 2 gb. How could anyone think that there would be less than several million people to get infected?


And no-one noticed for several days.

This needs a database. What idiot used a spreadsheet? Spreadsheets are for small simple stuff. I use a spreadsheet to track my computers; some 200 of them, unlikely to rise to 300, file size is 100kb. The great thing about a spreadsheet is that anyone can use them, it's "programming power for the people". The terrible thing about a spreadsheet, is that many of the people using them have no programming or database experience, don't know what the limitations are, don't know about the need for debugging or how to do it and assume that "the spreadsheet is OK because I made it myself".

So, when I was looking at the case numbers for the last few days, it looked like the numbers had peaked and were slightly falling, which is very encouraging. But it turned out that this wasn't true - I had been misled by the inaccurate numbers - and so had the oven-ready policy makers in our world-beating country.

And, of course, Dido Harding is in charge of all this. Baroness Blunder herself. The Shambles-in-Chief who was in charge of TalkTalk when they had their huge IT failure. But it's just another instance of the UK government being unable to organise an IT project in a brewery.



  1. And it's not as if resilient, robust, fast, free database software is not available these days.. I would like a crack at MS Harding's job.. buy that would mean working with the rest of the looney tunes crew so maybe not. ACD.

  2. Dear Anon @16:45 I hear that Dr Solly messed about on an old Harris mainframe at the local poly in the '80s and even did a bit of dBase II back in the 90s. Get him to quote instead.

  3. You're wrong about the Harris mainframe, but I did once do a dBase II project. I think that was in the late 80s.

  4. And another £2 million down the Swanee over unfair contract award: