After a shocking investigation claimed that the UK government’s handling of the early Covid pandemic was one of the biggest public health failures in history, there has been no apology.
Cabinet Office Minister Stephen Barclay rebuffed multiple opportunities to apologize for the government’s Covid response in an interview with Sky News on Tuesday, saying, “We followed the scientific advice, we safeguarded the NHS, we took the judgments based on the data before us.”
“With something as unexpected as the pandemic, there will be lessons to learn, and we’re eager to learn them,” he said.
Barclay’s performance came after the House of Commons’ science and health committees released a blistering 150-page report on the same day, focusing mostly on the pandemic response in England.
The report called the delay in deciding on lockdowns and social distancing measures during the early weeks of the pandemic – and the recommendations that led to them – “one of the most serious public health disasters the UK has ever seen.”
Downing Street declared the UK’s first lockdown on March 23, 2020, two months after experts met to debate the pandemic’s national response, a decision that the authors of the study felt too slow.
“The shroud of ignorance through which the UK viewed the opening weeks of the pandemic was partially self-inflicted,” according to the report.
It is now evident that this was the incorrect policy, and that it resulted in a higher initial death toll than would have come from a more zealous early response. Every week mattered in a pandemic that spread quickly and dramatically.
However, the country’s vaccine rollout, which has vaccinated over 79 percent of the population, has been praised as “one of the most effective in Europe and, for a country our size, one of the most effective in the world.”
Since the onset of the pandemic, over 160,000 Covid-related deaths have been recorded in the UK, making it the second-worst in Europe and the eighth-worst in the world.
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