British Parliamentary Report Condemns Government’s Slow COVID-19 Response

A report produced by the British parliament says a state of “groupthink” among government officials led to a costly delay in ordering a nationwide lockdown in the first days of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The 151-page report from the joint science and health committees in the House of Commons says Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Cabinet deliberately engaged in a “slow and gradualist approach” in the first few months of 2020 as officials sought to manage instead of suppress the spread of the virus. 

The joint inquiry says the virus was able to take hold across Britain because of that “fatalistic” strategy, which was finally abandoned as the country’s National Health Service risked being overwhelmed by the rapidly rising number of cases. 

The report also criticized Johnson’s government for its “slow, uncertain and often chaotic” testing and tracing system, while noting a failure between national and local governments and other public bodies to share data. 

The lawmakers concluded the government’s response to the pandemic was “one of the most important health failures” in Britain’s history.

In an interview with Sky News, Stephen Barclay, Johnson’s Minister for the Cabinet Office, repeatedly declined to apologize for the government’s actions. 

“We followed, throughout, the scientific advice,” he said. “We got the vaccine deployed extremely quickly, we protected our [National Health Service] from the surge of cases.”

“Of course, if there are lessons to learn we’re keen to do so,” he added. 

The final report was compiled from hours of testimony given by more than 50 witnesses, including former health secretary Matt Hancock and Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s former special adviser, who has emerged as a vocal critic of Johnson’s handling of the pandemic.

In France, officials have released a new study that shows people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 are far less likely to die or be hospitalized, even in the presence of the delta variant.

Researchers compared the outcomes of 11 million vaccinated people against an equal number of unvaccinated people beginning in December 2020. The study found the risk of someone contracting the coronavirus was reduced by 90% about 14 days after receiving a second dose of the Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines. The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine was not included in the study, since it was authorized much later in France.

The study says the vaccines are nearly as effective against the delta variant, with 92% protection for people between 50 and 75 years old, and 84% for people 75 years old and older. It also says the vaccines maintained their high level of effectiveness during the five months the study was conducted.

Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, Reuters, Sky News, and Agence France-Presse. 

 

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