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Local News

Government’s ‘arrogant’ Covid response and ‘serious errors’ led to thousands of deaths, MPs’ report claims

today12/10/2021

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The government has been accused of “arrogance” in its handling of the coronavirus pandemic as MPs called for a full public inquiry to begin immediately.

A damning 150-page report was released today which noted the pandemic was “the biggest crisis our country has faced… in a century”.

Coronavirus: Lessons Learned to Date was compiled by MPs from across the political spectrum and highlighted a number of “serious errors” and “major deficiencies”, particularly at the outset of the pandemic.

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Although the vaccine programme was praised, the early decisions to contain and then delay the spread of Covid-19 – rather than trying to stop it from passing from person to person – have been described as “fatalistic”.

More than 150,000 deaths in the UK have been linked to coronavirus since March 2020.

Olivia Blake, the Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam, told YorkshireLive : “When there is a global crisis like this developing we should be learning lessons as quickly as we can from people who are going through it a few weeks ahead.

“I feel that there was a bit of arrogance that the UK would be in a different situation. Unfortunately, that was true. We were in a different situation, but we were in a much worse situation.



Olivia Blake says a public inquiry should be launched now
Olivia Blake says a public inquiry should be launched now

“The government time and time again failed to act with the urgency that they needed to. If actions had been taken, thousands and thousands more lives could have been saved.

“This was the biggest public health failing ever in the UK.”

Whitehall officials have said a full public inquiry into its handling of the pandemic will begin next year

However, Ms Blake and Stephanie Peacock MP are among those who are calling for it to be launched immediately.

“I don’t really see why there is a delay other than the government don’t want the inquiry, which I guess speaks for itself,” said Ms Peacock, the Labour MP for Barnsley East.



Stephanie Peacock says a public inquiry should be launched
Stephanie Peacock says a public inquiry should be launched

“There were some clear themes that come out of the report about the government simply acting too slowly, particularly at the very beginning.

“In the early stage of a pandemic, time is really of the essence and that wasn’t at the forefront of the government’s mind.

“The purpose of the inquiry is to learn lessons about what could be improved and what went wrong. The sooner we do that the better.”

Fabian Hamilton, the Labour MP for Leeds North East, also tweeted: “We must have a full public inquiry now.

“The government owes it to all those families who have lost loved ones to this dreadful virus.”

‘Major deficiencies in the machinery of government’

MPs from the House of Commons and Science and Technology Committee and Health and Social Care Committee released their initial findings 18 months after the first lockdown.

There was criticism of the government’s failure to look at the successes of other nations in controlling the spread of Covid-19, including in countries bordering China.

“The initial response to the crisis exposed some major deficiencies in the machinery of government,” said the report.

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“It was also a serious mistake to get to the point where community testing was stopped early in the pandemic,” it added.

“A country with a world-class expertise in data analysis should not have faced the biggest health crisis in a hundred years with virtually no data to analyse.”

The report also noted the £37 billion Test and Trace programme was not effective enough and ultimately “caused more infections and cost lives”.

‘Complex and inconsistent’ local restrictions

The controversial local lockdowns which saw coronavirus restrictions imposed on West Yorkshire and large swathes of the north last year were described as “complex, inconsistent and scientifically ambiguous”.

The report said the regional restrictions introduced at the end of the first national lockdown last summer were not “anywhere near watertight enough to prevent infections spreading”.

And MPs said the decision to put many areas into Tiers 2 or 3 with extra restrictions at times “felt arbitrary and untransparent” as it was not clear why the changes were being made and how areas could exit the tier they were in.



Prime minister Boris Johnson has come under criticism in the Coronavirus: Lessons Learned to Date report
Prime minister Boris Johnson has come under criticism in the Coronavirus: Lessons Learned to Date report

Part of the report focuses on the period from May 2020 when national lockdown ended but tougher restrictions were kept in areas where infection rates were higher, like Leicester and parts of the North West and West Yorkshire.

And it concluded: “The two months between September 2020 and 31 October 2020 were an unsatisfactory period in which the comparative simplicity of the rules in place from the evening of 23 March onwards were replaced by a complex, inconsistent, shifting and scientifically ambiguous set of detailed restrictions.

“The rules had previously been a matter of broad national consent, but that sense of national solidarity began to erode.”

Praise reserved for vaccine programme

For all the failings highlighted, there was acclaim for the speed and effectiveness of the vaccination programme.

So far, almost 50 million people have received one dose and more than 45 million people have had two doses of a Covid vaccine.

In a joint statement, Tory MPs Greg Clark and Jeremy Hunt, who chair the committees, said: “The UK response has combined some big achievements with some big mistakes. It is vital to learn from both to ensure that we perform as best as we possibly can during the remainder of the pandemic and in the future.

“Our vaccine programme was boldly planned and effectively executed. Our test and trace programme took too long to become effective.

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“The government took seriously scientific advice but there should have been more challenge from all to the early UK consensus that delayed a more comprehensive lockdown when countries like South Korea showed a different approach was possible.

“In responding to an emergency, when much is unknown, it is impossible to get everything right.

“We record our gratitude to all those – NHS and care workers, scientists, officials in national and local government, workers in our public services and in private businesses and millions of volunteers – who responded to the challenge with dedication, compassion and hard work to help the whole nation at one of our darkest times.”

To get the latest email updates from Yorkshire Live, click here .

Written by: Rother Radio News


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today12/10/2021