COVID-19 hit at a time when the United Kingdom was vulnerable, reeling from its exit from the European Union and wracked by ongoing issues over the devolved nations, particularly Northern Ireland and Scotland, both of which had voted to remain in the EU during the 2016 referendum. Scotland had its own 2014 referendum on independence from the UK, which was narrowly won by the “No” side. While a pro-Brexit, right-wing Conservative government rules in London, the devolved administration in Edinburgh is led by the center-left Scottish National Party (SNP) government and first minister Nicola Sturgeon. However, when the pandemic first hit the UK in the early months of 2020, there was no discernible difference in approach between the Scottish government and the UK Government. In March 2020, both Scotland and the wider UK imposed lockdowns later than in other European countries. By mid-March, both had abandoned manual contact tracing around the same time that “Big Tech” firms such as Palantir were invited to meetings with the UK government. Later that month, NHSX (the English public health service unit tasked with setting policy and best practice for digital technologies and data in health) started developing a contact-tracing app amid techno-deterministic claims from the Johnson administration in London that we could digitize our way out of the pandemic.


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Daly, A. 2021, 'COVID-19 data on the fringes: the Scottish story', Covid-19 From the Margins. https://strathprints.strath.ac.uk/75565/

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Last updated: 17 June 2022
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