Britain: Report from House of Commons inquiry says that wrong policy led to higher initial death toll; but vaccination saved 112,000 lives in England alone

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The report from the Commons science and technology committee and the health and social care committee draws on evidence from more than 50 witnesses, including the former health secretary Matt Hancock, the government’s chief scientific and medical advisers, and leading figures from the vaccine taskforce and NHS Test and Trace.
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“It is now clear that this was the wrong policy, and that it led to a higher initial death toll than would have resulted from a more emphatic early policy. In a pandemic spreading rapidly and exponentially, every week counted.”
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It celebrates some aspects of the UK’s Covid response, in particular the rapid development, approval and delivery of vaccines, and the world-leading Recovery trial that identified life-saving treatments, but is highly critical of other areas.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/oct/12/covid-response-one-of-uks-worst-ever-public-health-failures

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Covid response ‘one of UK’s worst ever public health failures’

Early handling and belief in ‘herd immunity’ led to more deaths, Commons inquiry finds

Britain’s early handling of the coronavirus pandemic was one of the worst public health failures in UK history, with ministers and scientists taking a “fatalistic” approach that exacerbated the death toll, a landmark inquiry has found.

“Groupthink”, evidence of British exceptionalism and a deliberately “slow and gradualist” approach meant the UK fared “significantly worse” than other countries, according to the 151-page “Coronavirus: lessons learned to date” report led by two former Conservative ministers.

The crisis exposed “major deficiencies in the machinery of government”, with public bodies unable to share vital information and scientific advice impaired by a lack of transparency, input from international experts and meaningful challenge.

Despite being one of the first countries to develop a test for Covid in January 2020, the UK “squandered” its lead and “converted it into one of permanent crisis”. The consequences were profound, the report says. “For a country with a world-class expertise in data analysis, to face the biggest health crisis in 100 years with virtually no data to analyse was an almost unimaginable setback.”
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Boris Johnson did not order a complete lockdown until 23 March 2020, two months after the government’s Sage committee of scientific advisers first met to discuss the crisis. “This slow and gradualist approach was not inadvertent, nor did it reflect bureaucratic delay or disagreement between ministers and their advisers. It was a deliberate policy – proposed by official scientific advisers and adopted by the governments of all of the nations of the UK,” the report says.

“It is now clear that this was the wrong policy, and that it led to a higher initial death toll than would have resulted from a more emphatic early policy. In a pandemic spreading rapidly and exponentially, every week counted.”

Decisions on lockdowns and social distancing during the early weeks of the pandemic – and the advice that led to them – “rank as one of the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced”, the report concludes, stressing: “This happened despite the UK counting on some of the best expertise available anywhere in the world, and despite having an open, democratic system that allowed plentiful challenge.”

It celebrates some aspects of the UK’s Covid response, in particular the rapid development, approval and delivery of vaccines, and the world-leading Recovery trial that identified life-saving treatments, but is highly critical of other areas.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/oct/12/covid-response-one-of-uks-worst-ever-public-health-failures

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