COVID-19: Reaction to highly critical COVID report, as Cummings brands prime minister and Labour leader 'jokes'
By SEAMLESS DAILY
12 October 2021
The report published by the health and social care committee and the science and technology committee, titled Coronavirus : Lessons learned to date, covers a variety of successes and failings across 150 pages.
the pandemic has claimed more than 150,000 lives in the uk and nearly five million worldwide so far, the "biggest peacetime challenge" for a century.
Cabinet Office minister Stephen Barclay said scientific advice had been followed and the government had made "difficult judgments" to protect the NHS.
Approached by reporters on Tuesday morning, Mr Cummings- who left Downing Street in November 2020 after his relationship with the prime minister nosedived- added : "Me and others put into place work to try and improve the system in 2020 after the first wave."
David Nabarro Dr Nabarro, World Health Organisation ( WHO ) special envoy for COVID-19, said that delayed action when responding to a virus spreading in communities leads to people "suffering".
Sir Keir Starmer Speaking to reporters on Tuesday lunchtime, the Labour leader said the committee's report is a "damning indictment" of the government's handling of the pandemic and that ministers must "accept responsibility and apologise".
He called on Boris Johnson to apologise to the bereaved and hold the public inquiry as soon as possible.
Jeremy Hunt Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Hunt- who was health secretary from 2012 to 2018 and now chairs the health and social care committee- admitted he was part of the "groupthink" that focused too much on flu and failed to adequately plan for a pandemic such as COVID.
we know that clearly wasn't- that is using the benefit of hindsight, but it's important to do so.
Greg Clark Tory MP Greg Clark, who chairs the Commons science and technology committee, told BBC Breakfast that the failure to implement an earlier lockdown was a "consensus decision" partly because it was not believed that individuals would obey the measures for a very long period of time.
The progress we have made is immense.
Hopefully not on the scale of this, but it is likely to become a feature of the future."
The UK's failure to do more to stop Covid spreading early in the pandemic was one of the worst ever public health failures, a report by MPs says.
But the report highlights successes too, including the vaccination rollout.
It said the whole programme was one of the most effective initiatives in history, and will ultimately help to save millions of lives here and across the world.
"The UK has combined some big achievements with some big mistakes.
Mr Barclay told the BBC the government would not shy away from any lessons to be learned at the full public inquiry, expected next year.
The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice campaign group said many people would see the report as a "slap in the face".
The report said this was based on dealing with a flu pandemic, and was done on the advice of its scientific advisers on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies ( Sage ).
Asked whether herd immunity had been a policy in the early days, Jeremy Hunt, chair of the Health and Social Care Committee, said he did not think there was any desire for the whole population to be infected.
The advice from scientists changed on 16 March 2020, but it was only a week later that a lockdown was announced.
"This slow and gradualist approach was not inadvertent, nor did it reflect bureaucratic delay or disagreement between ministers and their advisers," the report says.
"It is now clear that this was the wrong policy, and that it led to a higher initial death toll than would have resulted from a more emphatic early policy.
In a pandemic spreading rapidly and exponentially, every week counted."
Had the government known how much the country would be willing to endure, lockdown may have come sooner, he said.
The MPs also highlighted how ministers in England rejected scientific advice to have a two-week "circuit-breaker" in the autumn.
"We did get some things right and we got some things wrong, and it seems essential we don't just let that pass without trying to squeeze out the lessons and confront some difficult truths," he told BBC Breakfast.
The UK was one of the first countries in the world to develop a test for Covid in January 2020, but failed to translate that into an effective test-and-trace system during the first year of the pandemic.
It was not until May that the NHS Test and Trace system was launched in England, but the report described its start as "slow, uncertain and often chaotic".
The greatest praise though was reserved for the vaccination programme and the way the government supported the development of a number of vaccines, including the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab.
The report's recommendations include comprehensive government plans for future emergencies, a bigger role for the armed forces in emergency response plans, and considering a government and NHS volunteer reserve database.
Do not resuscitate orders were also used inappropriately.
The rapid discharge of people from hospital into care homes without adequate testing or isolation was a prime example of this.
This, combined with untested staff bringing infection into homes from the community, led to many thousands of deaths which could have been avoided.
"I knew in my own mind the lockdown was too slow, I knew the social care sector wasn't being looked after, I knew people shouldn't have been released from hospital without tests, and this just confirms that."
She is calling for the government to move to a public inquiry now to see if anyone is culpable.
If you feel able to do so please share your experiences by emailing haveyoursay @ bbc.co.uk.
Modelling for a Mers coronavirus outbreak was also seemingly suppressed.
The threat of pandemic influenza influenced much of the initial pandemic response, despite reports from China of asymptomatic spread, and researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine advocating early and robust restrictions to curtail virus spread.
While this approach mirrored Asian countries that had successfully controlled Sars and Mers previously, the UK instead took a "fatalistic" decision that it would not be possible to suppress the virus.
Contrast this with the lack of financial support made available to the least well-off, who needed to self-isolate.
Testing capacity was found lacking, and the government rejection of the Sage-proposed September "circuit breaker" was both an obscure and dubious process.
But that extra funding will first go to the NHS, with social care not receiving much for some time.
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