Steve Barclay refuses to apologise fo Covid mistakes on LBC
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Serious errors and delays at the hands of the Government and scientific advisers cost lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a damning report from MPs. The study, from the cross-party Science and Technology Committee and the Health and Social Care Committee, said the UK’s preparation for a pandemic was far too focused on flu, while ministers waited too long to push through lockdown measures in early 2020. On his morning show, Mr Ferrari said to Stephen Barclay: “You can apologise for that?
“Government’s Covid mistakes is one headline, elderly were just an afterthought is another headline and this was just a report from your own MPs.
“You’re able to apologise for that, aren’t you?”
Mr Barclay replied: “I think we followed the scientific advice.
“We need to look at the report, it’s only just come out and where there are lessons to learn.”
Mr Ferrari interjected: “Stop saying there are lessons to learn. I just wonder why you’re unable to apologise.”
The minister continued: “Because we followed the scientific advice we had at the time.
“The knowledge we had at that point was different. We did move quickly in response to the pandemic.
“We had guidance out to the social care sector in February 2020, we had an action plan in April, we put in place support.”
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In the wide-ranging report, MPs said the UK’s pandemic planning was too “narrowly and inflexibly based on a flu model” that failed to learn the lessons from Sars, Mers, and Ebola.
Former chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies told MPs there was “groupthink”, with infectious disease experts not believing that “Sars, or another Sars, would get from Asia to us”.
The UK’s national risk register, which was in place at the start of the pandemic, said “the likelihood of an emerging infectious disease spreading within the UK is assessed to be lower than that of a pandemic flu”. It also said only up to 100 people may die during any outbreak of an emerging infectious disease.
Once Covid-19 emerged in China, MPs said the UK policy was to take a “gradual and incremental approach” to interventions such as social distancing, isolation, and lockdowns.
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In their study, they said this was “a deliberate policy” proposed by scientists and adopted by UK governments, which has now been shown to be “wrong” and led to a higher death toll.
The MPs said the “decisions on lockdowns and social distancing during the early weeks of the pandemic – and the advice that led to them – rank as one of the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced”.
On the issue of whether the Government was pursuing a policy of herd immunity, which has proved controversial, MPs said that while it was not an official Government strategy, there was a “policy approach of fatalism about the prospects for Covid in the community”.
Experts and ministers sought to “only moderate the speed of infection” through the population – flattening the curve – rather than seeking to stop its spread altogether.
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