UK pandemic approach a major error: MPs

·1-min read

The delay to Britain's first coronavirus lockdown was a serious error based on groupthink that went unchallenged, MPs say, adding that failures in testing positive cases and tracing contacts exacerbated the crisis.

Parliament's health and science committees have jointly published a 150-page report on lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic after hours of testimony from more than 50 witnesses, including government policy, health and science advisers.

The report highlighted a "policy approach of fatalism" that sought to manage but not suppress COVID-19 infections in the early stages of the pandemic, a policy it described as a "serious error".

"Our test and trace program took too long to become effective. The Government took seriously scientific advice but there should have been more challenge from all to the early UK consensus that delayed a more comprehensive lockdown," MPs Jeremy Hunt and Greg Clark, who led the committees behind the report, said.

Britain has reported nearly 138,000 fatalities within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test result, the eighth-highest death toll in the world.

The report said the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines was well planned and executed, but warned overall, lessons would need to be learned to avoid repeating mistakes.

It recommended more focus on pandemic contingency planning.

"The UK's response, with the notable exception of vaccine development and deployment, has for the most part been too reactive as opposed to anticipatory," the report said.

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