VideoThe British government waited a long time to impose a lockdown in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, it missed an opportunity to contain the disease at an early stage, resulting in thousands of unnecessary deaths. This is the painful conclusion of a parliamentary report released today.
According to the researchers, the delay was due to ministers blindly following the recommendations of scientific advisors in those first three months, without asking critical questions. As a result, they rejected the more aggressive approach of some Asian countries, which immediately isolated cases and imposed lockdowns.
According to the joint report of the House of Commons Science and Health Committee, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government gave up only when Britain’s Health Service threatened to be overwhelmed by rapidly rising infection rates. Researchers call it “one of the biggest public health problems” in British history.
“The government wanted to avoid the closure due to the massive damage it would do to the economy, normal health services and society,” the report said. “The closure should have come earlier, especially since other measures were not taken, such as isolating infection, searching for sources and contact and strict border control.” Prime Minister Johnson first announced the lockdown on March 23, 2020. That was two months after UK government advisers first met on the coronavirus crisis.
The British Parliamentary report aims to answer why Britain performed “much worse” than many other countries during the early days of the pandemic. The 150-page report is based on about 50 testimonies, including from former Health Secretary Matt Hancock and former government official Dominic Cummings.
The UK has been hit hard by the coronavirus, with nearly 138,000 people dying from the virus since March last year. The investigative report anticipates an official public inquiry into the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which Johnson says will not begin until next spring.
The commission of inquiry praised the government’s early focus on vaccines as the ultimate path out of the pandemic and its decision to invest in vaccine development. These decisions led to the success of Britain’s immunization programme, with nearly 80 per cent of people aged 12 or over vaccinated.
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