Demolishing report from the British Parliament on the management of the first weeks of the pandemic by the Government of Boris Johnson. According to the 150-page document, the UK’s inability to do more to slow the spread of COVID-19 early in the pandemic was one of the worst public health failures in history. The government’s policies in those months, according to its scientists, consisted of seeking group immunity, which, according to the report, “led to a delay in the introduction of the first confinement, which cost lives.”
The report Coronavirus: lessons learned, drawn up by the parliamentary committees for Health and Science, yes, it recognizes the success of the vaccination plan, “one of the most effective initiatives in the history of the United Kingdom”. The study has also been criticized for not having collected testimonies from relatives of deceased people.
For parliamentarians, the pandemic, which has claimed more than 150,000 lives in the UK and nearly five million worldwide, has posed “the greatest peacetime challenge” in a century. “It was impossible to do everything right”, Conservative MPs Jeremy Hunt and Greg Clark, who chair the committees, argue: “The UK has combined some great achievements with some great mistakes. It is vital to learn from both.”
When the pandemic began, the British Government opted to manage its spread through the population instead of trying to stop it, as if it were, according to the report, an influenza pandemic, following the advice of its scientific advisers from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).
But, according to the study, the approach was not sufficiently questioned by the cabinet, which showed that the United Kingdom was not receptive to strategies that were being taken elsewhere, such as Asia, where countries imposed strict border controls regarding the COVID began to circulate.
Bottom line: Very little was done in the first few weeks to stop the spread of the coronavirus, despite evidence from China and then Italy that it was a highly infectious virus, causing serious illness, and for which there was no cure: “The veil of ignorance through which Britain saw the first weeks of the pandemic was partly self-inflicted.”
Jeremy Hunt, Chairman of the Health and Social Care Committee, has told the BBC that there was a “fatalism that in the end that was likely to be the only way to stop the spread of the virus. I think we wanted to do everything we could, but once we came to the conclusion that there was community transmission, that was going to be very difficult”.
Parliamentarians say the decisions on lockdowns and social distancing during the first weeks of the pandemic have been “one of the most significant public health failures the UK has ever experienced”.
The scientists’ advice changed on March 16, 2020, but the first lockdown was announced a week later. “This slow and gradualist approach was not inadvertent, nor did it reflect bureaucratic delays or disagreements between ministers and their advisers,” says the report: “It was a deliberate policy, proposed by official scientific advisers and adopted by the governments of all the nations of the Kingdom. United. It is now clear that it was the wrong policy, and that it led to a higher initial death toll than would have resulted from stronger decisions. In a rapidly and exponentially spreading pandemic, every week counted. ”
In this sense, a match with 50,000 spectators between Liverpool and Atlético de Madrid is mentioned on March 11, 2020, the day the WHO gave the pandemic alert; as well as the 250,000 gathered at the Cheltenham Equestrian Festival between March 10 and 13.
When asked who was responsible for the mistakes made, Greg Clark, chairman of the British Parliament’s Science committee, told the BBC: “We did some things right and some things wrong, and it is essential that we do not let that go without trying. to draw lessons and face some difficult truths. ”
The report’s highest praise goes to the vaccination program and the way the British Government supported vaccine development, including the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
Parliamentarians have also pointed out that the pandemic had exacerbated existing social, economic and health inequalities. Thus, the report highlights the “unacceptably high” mortality rates in ethnic minority groups and among people with learning disabilities and autism.
For ethnic minorities, increased exposure due to living and working conditions is noted, noting that there was a lack of priority assigned to nursing homes at the beginning of the pandemic.