Top scientist Sir Paul Nurse has blasted the UK government for lacking proper leadership over the Covid-19 outbreak, saying Westminster has been “increasingly playing catch-up” and “firefighting” its way through successive crises.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4 on Friday, Nurse claimed that he believed that the UK government has not responded effectively to the outbreak of Covid-19.

Nurse – who won a Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2001 – even asked who’s really in charge of handling the pandemic, before adding he’s uncertain that the British leaders themselves know the answer to that question.

Who is developing the strategy and the operation and implementation of that strategy?” he asked. “I don’t know, but more importantly, do they know?” 

The scientist was particularly critical of Boris Johnson’s administration for abandoning mass testing at an early stage of the outbreak, which meant that hospitals became “potentially unsafe spaces” as many asymptomatic staff and patients would have been infectious without knowing it. He did, however, praise frontline workers, comparing their bravery to that of “lions”.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis responded to Nurse’s criticism in the same radio show, arguing that the government has been “very transparent” with people and insisting that they’ve been following “the best scientific advice out there” about tackling coronavirus. 

PM Johnson has been heavily criticized by scientists and the opposition since the start of the pandemic for drastic PPE shortages across the NHS, as well as a lack of mass testing during the early stages, although the government maintains that it acted assuming a probable worst case scenario. 

The UK is currently the worst hit country in Europe by the pandemic, with 36,393 deaths and over 254,000 confirmed coronavirus infections. 

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!