A parliamentary report concluded Tuesday says the government’s delayed response to the Covid-19 pandemic costs the UK the chance to adequately contain the pandemic, which resulted in thousands of “unnecessary deaths.”
According to the joint report from the House of Commons’ science and health committees, a lethargic response to the pandemic informed by failure on the part of ministers to question the recommendations of scientific advisers, resulted in a dangerous level of “groupthink” and eventually caused the UK to dismiss the aggressive containment procedures adopted in East and Southeast Asia in the immediate aftermath of the outbreak.
The report noted that the Boris Johnson-led Conservative government did not order a lockdown until the National Health Service risked being overwhelmed by rapidly rising infections.
“There was a desire to avoid a lockdown because of the immense harm it would entail to the economy, normal health services and society,’’ the report said. “In the absence of other strategies such as rigorous case isolation, a meaningful test-and-trace operation, and robust border controls, a full lockdown was inevitable and should have come sooner.’’
The U.K. parliamentary report precursors what the formal public inquiry into the government’s response to the pandemic could look like. Amid widespread frustration on the deadline of the planned inquiry, Johnson has said it will start next spring.
Lawmakers said their inquisition was aimed at unravelling why Britain performed “significantly worse” than other countries after the pandemic broke out to enable the UK respond better to the lingering threat of Covid and also brace for future incidents.
The report, 150 pages in volume documented testimonies from 50 witnesses, including former Health Secretary Matt Hancock and former government insider Dominic Cummings.
It was unanimously endorsed by 22 lawmakers from the three most dominant parties in Parliament: the ruling Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party as well as the Scottish National Party.
The committees lauded the government’s dogged efforts in developing vaccines early on. According to them, this focus is largely responsible for the UK’s successful vaccination program which has led to the inoculation of 80% of people above 12.
“Millions of lives will ultimately be saved as a result of the global vaccine effort in which the U.K. has played a leading part,” the committees said.
On the other hand, they faulted the government’s test-and-trace program, describing it as slow, uncertain and often chaotic. The committees believe the program in large parts hampered Britain’s response to the pandemic.