The British government was too slow to implement a lockdown during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. This missed a chance to control the disease and led to thousands of deaths. Legislators concluded Tuesday in a tough-hitting report.
Ministers failed to question scientific advisors’ recommendations, which led to a dangerous level of groupthink that led to them dismissing more aggressive strategies in East and Southeast Asia. This was according to a joint report by the House of Commons science and health committees.
Only when Britain’s National Health Service was at risk of being overwhelmed by rapidly increasing infections, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government ordered a lockdown. In late March 2020
The report stated that there was a desire not to lock down due to the enormous harm it would cause to society, the economy and normal health services. “A full lockdown was inevitable in the absence of other strategies, such as strict case isolation, a meaningful check-and-trace operation and robust border controls.
Stephen Barclay, Cabinet Minister, defended the government’s response by saying that “decisions were made based on the evidence and scientific advice at the time.”
It was a pandemic unprecedented in its magnitude. “We were learning as we went along, and of course, with hindsight there’s things that we now know about it,” Barclay said to British broadcaster Sky News.
The U.K. Parliament report is released amid frustration at the timeline for a formal public inquiry about the government’s response COVID-19. Johnson claims that it will begin next spring.
The inquiry, according to lawmakers, was meant to discover why Britain performed so poorly compared with other countries in the initial days of the pandemic. Britain has had the most coronavirus-related deaths in Europe, surpassing Russia’s 137,000.
The 150-page report was based on testimony of 50 witnesses, including Matt Hancock, former Health Secretary, and Dominic Cummings, former government insider. It was unanimously approved in Parliament by 22 members representing the three largest parties: the Conservatives, the Labour Party, and the Scottish National Party.
Committees praised the government for its early focus on vaccines and decision to invest in vaccine research. These decisions were the catalyst for Britain’s success inoculation program. Nearly 80% of all people aged 12 and older are now fully vaccinated.
The committees stated that “millions of lives will be saved because of the global vaccination effort in which U.K. has been a leader”