British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that “at this stage” it’s not possible to “draw international comparisons,” with official figures showing the UK now has the worst Covid-19 death toll in Europe.

Asked on Wednesday by Labour Leader Keir Starmer how it was possible that the outbreak had become so dire in Britain, Johnson said it was not right to make comparisons with other countries because of incomplete data.

“The data is not yet there to draw conclusions that we want,” Johnson said.

Johnson was slammed last month for claiming that “many people” would be looking at Britain’s “apparent success” in dealing with the outbreak, even as UK figures shot up to overtake some of the worst-hit countries in Europe.

As of May 5, the UK’s death toll from the novel coronavirus infection was 32,313, according to a government tally. That surpasses the approximately 29,300 deaths recorded in Italy, which was previously the hardest-hit country in Europe. Worldwide, only the United States has suffered more deaths from the infection than Britain.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told reporters on Tuesday that the “real verdict” on how countries responded won’t come “until the pandemic is over” and there is comprehensive international data available on mortality.

It is true that different countries are using different methods to count cases and deaths, making direct comparisons difficult. However, Johnson has consistently been criticized by medical experts for a sluggish response to the crisis after his government mulled taking a ‘herd immunity’ approach to the outbreak in its early stages.

“I believe that of course there will be a time to look at what decisions we took and whether we could have taken different decisions,” Johnson said, insisting that for now the priority was to suppress the virus as much as possible. The government’s ambition now, he said, is to get up to 200,000 tests per day by the end of May. That will be a tall order, given that it has struggled to meet the 100,000 tests per day target that was previously set.

Johnson also said on Wednesday that the government wants to “get going” with some lockdown-easing measures from next Monday. He added, however, that if the restrictions were eased in a way that resulted in a second spike for the virus, it would be an “economic disaster” for the country.

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