it was always going to be that the government’s delay in bringing him lock down in March last year would become a difficult political issue for Boris Johnson and his ministers. The UK has the worst death toll in Europe and it is argued that if lock-down had been brought in earlier the impact would have been lessened and many more people would have survived.
The report from the Commons science and technology committee and the health and social care committee draws on evidence from more than 50 witnesses, including former health secretary Matt Hancock. This is how the Daily Mirror is reporting it:
A joint probe by the Commons health and science committees found ministers made a “serious error” by taking a “gradual and incremental” approach to lockdowns last year. Experts said shutting down a week earlier than March 23, 2020, would have cut the 40,000 death toll in the first wave “by at least half”. The first major probe into the government’s handling of the Covid pandemic branded the delay “one of the most important public health failures” the UK had ever suffered.The MPs said: “It is now clear this was the wrong policy, and that it led to a higher initial death toll than would have resulted from a more emphatic early policy. In a pandemic spreading rapidly and exponentially every week counted. MPs also tore into the “slow, uncertain and often chaotic” £38billion Test and Trace system, which had failed to prevent future lockdowns.”
The report praises ministers for the speed in which vaccines were brought in but the charge that the death toll could have been halved is going to be hard to dismiss.