Steve Barclay refuses to apologise fo Covid mistakes on LBC
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The first major inquiry into the Government's handling of the pandemic was carried out by the health and science committees of the House of Commons, and echoes the claims made by Dominic Cummings months earlier. The 'Coronavirus: lessons learned to date' report has revealed that during the first few months of the pandemic, the Government followed the advice of scientific and medical advisers to strategize herd immunity in the UK, rather than working to protect as many people as possible.
The committee reported that the Government "made a serious early error in adopting" a "fatalistic approach".
The inquiry read: “When the Government moved from the 'contain' stage to the 'delay' stage, that approach involved trying to manage the spread of covid through the population rather than to stop it spreading altogether.”
It continued: "The fact that the UK approach reflected a consensus between official scientific advisers and the Government indicates a degree of groupthink that was present at the time which meant we were not as open to approaches being taken elsewhere as we should have been."
By groupthink, the report means the group of advisers and ministers wanted to agree on a plan of action, but this conformity resulted in an irrational, dysfunctional decision-making outcome.
The inquiry suggests much of the early advice from SAGE was wrong, but ministers "felt it was difficult to challenge the views of their official scientific advisers".
Professor Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance have been held accountable by a new government report (Image: Getty)
The choice to suppress the virus rather than stop the virus meant the Government was slow to introduce lockdown measures, stop international travel, and introduce mass testing, the report finds.
It reads: "There should have been more challenge to Public Health England to increase testing capacity right at the outset by ministers, scientific advisers and the Department of Health and Social Care."
The report adds: "There was a desire to avoid a lockdown because of the immense harm it would entail to the economy, normal health services and society.
"In the absence of other strategies such as rigorous case isolation, a meaningful test and trace operation, and robust border controls, a full lockdown was inevitable and should have come sooner."
Boris has been led by the chief advisors throughout 2020 and 2021 (Image: Getty)
In response to the report, a Government spokesman said: "Throughout the pandemic we have been guided by scientific and medical experts and we never shied away from taking quick and decisive action to save lives and protect our NHS, including introducing restrictions and lockdowns.
"We are committed to learning lessons from the pandemic and have committed to holding a full public inquiry in spring."
Professor Whitty and Sir Vallance have been the top scientific and medical advisers to the Government, so do you think they should resign after the findings exposed by the 'Coronavirus: lessons learned to date' report? Vote now.
On the Government handling of Covid cases in care homes, the report findings were difficult, particularly for those who have lost loved ones.
The committee's investigation found that thousands of care home deaths could have been prevented had the Government put more effort into protecting social care facilities from the spread.
The committee wrote: "The lack of priority attached to social care during the initial phase of the pandemic was illustrative of a longstanding failure to afford social care the same attention as the NHS.
"The rapid discharge of people from hospitals into care homes without adequate testing or rigorous isolation was indicative of the disparity.
"It is understandable that the Government should move quickly to avoid hospitals being overwhelmed, but it was a mistake to allow patients to be transferred to care homes without the rigour shown in places like Germany and Hong Kong.
"This, combined with untested staff bringing infection into homes from the community, led to many thousands of deaths which could have been avoided."
So many loved one in nursing homes have been lost to the Covid virus (Image: Getty)
Those over 80 were 70 times more likely to die from Covid than those aged under 40, yet in the first month of lockdown around 25,000 patients were discharged into care homes without being tested for Covid.
This left entire care homes wiped out by Covid cases and the result was that almost one in four people who died from Covid-19 lived in a care home.
In clear condemnation of Professor Whitty and Sir Vallance, who lead SAGE, the report stated: "The Government and the NHS both failed adequately to recognise the significant risks to the social care sector at the beginning of the pandemic.
"SAGE either did not have sufficient representation from social care or did not give enough weight to the impact on the social care sector."
Who do you think should be held responsible for these failures? Have your voice heard in the comments section below.
Full committee report here .
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CORRECTION: A previous version of this article contained a chart headlined ‘Number of deaths involving Covid in case homes per week’. This chart was wrong as it showed total care home deaths rather than those caused by Covid. We apologise for this error. An updated chart is now in the article.
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