MINISTERS made “big mistakes” that cost lives early in the Covid crisis but the jabs rollout was world class, MPs have said.
Parliament’s health and science committees published a damning 150-page report after grilling key government players in a year-long inquiry.
They found the first lockdown in 2020 came too late, care homes were initially neglected, and the Test & Trace scheme was “slow and chaotic” and failed to prevent the need for lockdowns.
But they agreed the vaccines rollout was “one of the most effective in the world”.
Tory MPs Jeremy Hunt and Greg Clark, who led the inquiry, said: “In responding to an emergency, it is impossible to get everything right.
“The UK response has combined some big achievements with some big mistakes. It is vital to learn from both to ensure that we perform as best as we can during the remainder of the pandemic and in the future.”
They said Covid was the “biggest crisis our country has faced in generations” and thanked NHS staff, scientists, public servants, businesses and volunteers.
But the UK’s response was “inflexible” and scientific advice was not challenged enough, they said.
This led to a delay to March 2020’s lockdown even though it was “inevitable” because there was no other way to stop the virus.
The report says it was a “serious mistake” to stop swab-testing during the first wave and that Public Health England should have been pressured to boost capacity.
It adds that it was only the “unorthodox” decision by then-Health Secretary Matt Hancock to set a target of 100,000 tests a day in April 2020 that galvanised the system and led to a massive increase in capacity.
And it says overlooking social care and discharging hospital patients into care homes without testing or isolating them was a “devastating” error that led to thousands of deaths.
But it says ministers were correct to identify vaccines would be the long-term route out of the pandemic.
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