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The Failure of Track-and-Trace: Interview with Jay Bhattacharya

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From early in the pandemic, once the confusion over testing had been sorted out, there seemed to be universal agreement on the following. We need vast testing. When someone tests positive, there should be a concerted effort to seek out those with whom the person had contact. Those people should be told to isolate for a period in case they too are carriers. All of this required an army of case workers to manage: New York City alone hired 3,000.

By late 2021, when cases swept over the entire country, most consistently mild or asymptomatic, it became rather obvious that this arduous track-and-trace practice was pointless. But there are deeper questions. What was the underlying goal of these efforts? Did the experts genuinely believe that the virus could be suppressed or even eradicated through these methods? When does track-and-trace make sense and when is it futile, and how can we know?

Jeffrey Tucker of Brownstone put these questions to Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University and Brownstone Institute. In this extended interview, he answers the above with clarity.

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  • The Brownstone Institute for Social and Economic Research is a nonprofit organization conceived of in May 2021 in support of a society that minimizes the role of violence in public life.


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