By Charlotte Webster-
The UK’s failure to do more to stop Covid -19 spreading early in the pandemic was one of the worst ever public health failures, according to a report by MPs .
The report says that a government approach – backed by its scientists – cost thousands of lives due to the delay in introducing the first lockdown.
The delay in introducing the national lockdown in the Uk was because the government was trying to manage the situation by achieving herd immunity by infection, the report said.
The result was that too little was done in the early weeks to stop Covid spreading, despite evidence from China and then Italy that it was a virus that was highly infectious, caused severe illness and for which there was no cure.
“The veil of ignorance through which the UK viewed the initial weeks of the pandemic was partly self-inflicted,” said the report.
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.
However, the report also described the whole approach to the vaccination programme – from the research and development through to the rollout of the jabs – as “one of the most effective initiatives in UK history”.
The report predominantly focuses on the response to the pandemic in England. The committee did not look at steps taken individually by Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
The findings are detailed in the report – Coronavirus: Lessons learned to date – from the Health and Social Care Committee and the Science and Technology Committee, which contain MPs from all parties.
MPs call the pandemic, which has claimed more than 150,000 lives in the UK and nearly five million worldwide so far, the “biggest peacetime challenge” for a century.
Labour’s Shadow Secretary described the report as “a damning report into monumental errors made by ministers”.
“Ministers were warned but responded with complacency,” he said on Twitter, giving the example of “care homes left unprotected as the virus raged”.
He called for a public inquiry now to ensure that mistakes of “such tragic magnitude” are never repeated again.