Sunday Times: How the Johnson Government delays cost lives

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The Johnson administration’s 22-day delay in imposing quarantine in Britain, costing thousands of lives, stigmatizes Sunday Times in a revealing post.

The newspaper reports that it was already late in late February, when the first case in the country appeared, as the number of cases increased exponentially.

On March 2, while the virus was in the UK for about five weeks and multiplying rapidly, Boris Johnson convened the first Cobra meeting.

At the time, he had assured that the country was “very well prepared, has at its disposal fantastic test systems and amazing monitoring of the spread of the disease.”

In fact, the British Prime Minister had advised the citizens to continue their activities normally.

However, after a week, both the mass tests and the tracking of contacts stopped. However, life went on normally and in early March: the bars remained open, the trains were operating normally, the football fields were full of people.

The British government has known since the beginning of March about the devastating effects of corona

The Sunday Times spoke with Downing Street scientists, politicians, academics and advisers to unravel why the government was so late.

They found that a government committee had been informed since March 3 by two research teams (Imperial College London and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine) that Britain was facing a devastating loss of life if no drastic action was taken.

“Until then, however, any hope of controlling the virus through contact tracking had passed, because the government had not adequately increased the possibility of diagnostic tests in January and February,” the Sunday Times reported.

Professor Peter Opensso, a member of the scientific committee that advises the British government on the pandemic issues, told the Sunday Times that many members of the scientific advisory committees wanted to take measures to restrict British travel earlier than the government did on March 23.

“I think the critical period of delay has made a big difference in the numbers at the peak of the pandemic, both in terms of hospitalizations and deaths. I think everyone would accept now looking back that if we had chosen the lockdown two weeks earlier, it would have significantly reduced the number of hospitalizations and deaths, “said the pulmonologist and professor of Experimental Medicine at Imperial College London.

The stake immunity stake

Therefore, the report added, the British government intended to pursue a policy of restraint and delay the spread of the virus by allowing it to be transmitted to the population with the intention of protecting the vulnerable and the elderly, with additional measures to eliminate the risk of collapse of the national health system. NHS.

So bet on the immunity of the herd, a big risk – as it turned out – since even today it is not clear how long the immunity lasts for those who have developed antibodies to coronavirus. Although the term “herd immunity” was heard at the time, the government denied that it had implemented this policy.

However, the paper quoted a Downing Street adviser at the time, whom he did not name, who said the herd’s immunity was central to the government’s plans in late February and early March.

Researchers have blamed the government for the lockdown

The British government did not ask the scientists of the mathematical models to study the impact of a lockdown.

This was done by the teams of Imperial and the School of Health and Tropical Medicine on their own initiative in mid-March, showing that with just one lockdown the deaths could be kept in the tens of thousands.

Sunday Times: How the Johnson Government delays cost lives

“The central assessment of the seriousness of the situation in the models of scientists was considered by the government as a reasonable manipulative scenario, not the most likely scenario. It took them a while to convince themselves, “a source close to the scientists commented.

The same source estimates that “one major concern and reason why so much time was spent looking at alternatives, such as mitigating the impact and protecting the vulnerable, was that everyone, especially (Chief Physician) Chris White, (Chief Scientific Advisor) Patrick Valans and the people
policy-making knew what the economic and social costs of the lockdown would be. ”

In the nine days that Johnson was thinking about how to impose the lockdown, the cases hit “red”

On March 14, the government staff was convened to discuss the situation in Corona, at a time when governments in other countries were implementing one lockdown after another.

Although sceptical at first, Boris Johnson admitted that the lockdown “would be needed.” However, it was still nine days late as he considered when and how to quarantine should be implemented.

This delay was fatal. Current research models show that from late February to early March, coronavirus cases doubled every three days in Britain. It is noteworthy that on March 3 there were 14,000 cases in Britain and eleven days later, on March 14, the cases reached 200,000.

In the nine days that Johnson has been deciding how to impose the lockdown until March 23, when it began, it is estimated that the number of cases has reached 1.5 million.

Sunday Times: How the Johnson Government delays cost lives

In no other European country has there been such an increase in cases before the quarantine was imposed.

As the Sunday Times typically concludes, the 20-day delay is the most important reason the UK is currently the second most deadly corona in the world.

Responding to the report, a government spokesman said the strategy was initially aimed at protecting the NHS and saving lives.

“It was vital that during the global pandemic, interventions were made in which the public could adapt to sufficient numbers over a long period of time. The government has made it clear that herd immunity has never been our policy or goal, “the spokesman said.


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