A parliamentary report points to serious errors in the initial response to the spread of the virus
The president of the Conservative Party, Oliver Dowden, said that “both the prime minister and I regret the losses suffered” by the families of those who died during the pandemic. But he clarified that the Government “faced an unprecedented situation.” “There is no perfect manual on how to act, we had to adapt and decide quickly,” he added. “Of course we would do some things differently with the perspective of the passage of time.”
In the absence of Boris Johnson, who spends a few days off with his wife, Carrie, pregnant, in a house of a billionaire member of the Government in Marbella, his ministers have had to respond to the publication of a parliamentary report critical of his management of the Covid. Dowden was responding to a question from a television channel about his willingness to apologize to affected family members.
The report is the joint work of two House of Commons committees, Health and Science, and expresses particularly sharp criticism of “herd thinking” that led scientific advisers and ministers to adopt a “fatalistic” attitude. before the first data of the epidemic. They would have assumed the belief that the virus could not be suppressed and that its spread had to be managed.
In a non-explicit way, they adopted the criterion that it would stop once its expansion created a group immunity. Only when the models on hospitalization and fatality indicated that the National Health Service (NHS) was going to be overwhelmed, the Government decreed the confinement, on March 23, 2020, when 335 deaths had already occurred.
“This gradualist approach did not reflect bureaucratic delays or disagreement between ministers and their advisers,” the report says. ‘It was a deliberate approach, proposed by scientific advisers and accepted by all nations in the UK. It is clear now that it was the wrong policy. According to its authors, it caused more deaths than a policy of more emphasis would have caused.
The report notes that the composition of the decision-making bodies, with all their British members, contributed to the lack of understanding of the experience with the disease in other countries. It notes that the NHS investigative body says it analyzed what South Korea and China were doing, but has found no material to verify such analysis.
The lack of preparation and the loss of a large number of special equipment stored by the Government, to tackle what would be “one of the biggest public health failures in the United Kingdom”, is not dealt with in detail. One of the authors, the president of the Health and Social Assistance Committee, Jeremy Hunt, was the minister responsible for these areas, from 2012 to 2018, and is free of criticism.
In the 150 pages, the error of the Government is pointed out in abandoning the tests to the population also in March. Also the sending of patients from hospitals to residences without being subjected to testing and the slow and chaotic start of the expensive tracking system. The role of the Government in the research of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and in its distribution at cost price is pointed out as an outstanding aspect of its management.
Johnson has promised a future official public inquiry, but has not advanced the terms of the poll. At present, with very few restrictions to normalized life, the United Kingdom has a number of daily cases – 38,665 on average in the last week – much higher than the average of other European countries, and an average of 114 deaths each day .