Inquiry Says 'Slow and Fatalistic Approach' Exacerbated UK's Approach to COVID

It also says that the early handling of the pandemic was one of the greatest public health failures in UK history.

2 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>UK PM Boris Johnson. Image used for representational purposes.&nbsp;</p></div>

A report published on 12 October, by two committees appointed by the House of Commons – the Health and Social Care Committee and the Science and Technology Committee – issued a scathing verdict of the Boris Johnson administration's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Both committees consisted of Members of Parliament from the ruling Conservative Party, the Labour Party, and the Scottish National Party.

Titled Coronavirus: Lessons Learned to Date, the report says that the UK's early handling of COVID-19 crisis was characterised by "groupthink", a "slow and fatalistic approach", and a misguided belief in the power of "herd immunity" to resolve the crisis, The Guardian reported.

The 151-page report called the pandemic "the greatest peacetime challenge in a century", the initial response to which "exposed some major deficiencies in the machinery of Government".

The executive summary of the report, while criticising the test and trace system, lamented that "despite being one of the first countries in the world to develop a test for COVID in January 2020", the UK "failed to translate that scientific leadership into operational success."

The report also questioned Prime Minister Boris Johnson's delay in locking the country down.

A complete lockdown was ordered only on 23 March 2020, two months after the first meeting held between him and his scientific advisors, added The Guardian.

Calling this policy a deliberate one, the inquiry read that "this slow and gradualist approach was not inadvertent, nor did it reflect bureaucratic delay or disagreement between ministers and their advisers".

While praising the development, approval and rollout of vaccines, the report concludes that the government's response to COVID-19 ranked "as one of the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced", despite having the "best expertise available anywhere in the world, and despite having an open, democratic system that allowed plentiful challenge".

(With inputs from the House of Commons and The Guardian.)

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