The UK’s early coronavirus response was a failure and the country “did significantly worse in terms of covid deaths than many countries,” according to a cross-party parliamentary committee report.
The “herd immunity” by infection approach, which was supported by scientists in the early days of the worst health crisis in the country during peacetime, led to a delay in introducing the first lockdown, costing many lives in the UK.
But the country’s vaccine program was one of the most efficient in Europe, although the COVID-19 death toll is over 150,000, the report by the Health and Social Care Committee said. It was “one of the most effective initiatives in UK history.”
The chairs of the committee, Jeremy Hunt and Greg Clark, who are both Conservative MPs, said it was “impossible to get everything right” because of the nature of the pandemic.
“The UK has combined some big achievements with some big mistakes. It is vital to learn from both,” they said.
The UK government declared the first lockdown on March 23, considerably later than some other European countries, delaying it for an aimed herd immunity by infection goal.
However, the continuously rising death toll forced the country to go for a lockdown.
The report said the approach was based on dealing with a flu pandemic and based on advice from the government’s top scientists on health. The policy was to take a “gradual and incremental approach” to social distancing, isolation, and lockdowns.
The report added that this was “a deliberate policy,” which has now been shown to be “wrong” and led to a higher death toll.
The MPs’ report said thousands of elderly people lost their lives in care homes during the first wave and that showed “social care had a less prominent voice in government during the early stages of the pandemic than did the NHS.”
The policy not to test those discharged from hospitals to care homes was a failure, which led to many deaths, the report added.