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COVID-19: Government’s handling of pandemic had “big mistakes,” MPs say

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The government’s actions in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic have received a mixed review from MPs in a report that set out the successes and failures of the UK response.

Although the joint report from the House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee and Health and Social Care Committee  praised the UK’s covid vaccination programme as highly effective, it also condemned serious errors, especially delayed lockdowns and how a test, trace, and isolate system was set up.

Overall, the MPs’ inquiry found that some government initiatives were examples of global best practice but that others represented “serious mistakes.” 

The UK’s pandemic planning was based too narrowly on a flu model that had failed to learn the lessons from the SARS, MERS, and Ebola epidemics, said the MPs, which meant that its covid planning was worse than in other countries.

Delays in establishing an adequate test, trace, and isolate system hampered efforts to contain the outbreak, said the MPs, and the government’s initial decision to delay a comprehensive lockdown had revealed its then “fatalistic” assumption that it was impossible to suppress the virus, which amounted, in practice, to accepting that herd immunity by infection was inevitable.

The report said that many thousands of deaths could have been avoided if the government had not let hospitals discharge people into care homes in the initial phase of the pandemic and that this showed the “longstanding failure” to give social care sufficient priority and the same attention as the NHS.

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Source: BMJ, 12 October 2021

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