Mid-March my wife & I discussed how the most vulnerable were, (a) People in Care Homes so care workers needed to be tested regularly for COVID-19 and have adequate PPE, (b) Front-line NHS staff in hospitals. The government’s focus just on the latter was a major strategic error which has resulted in the preventable deaths of many vulnerable care home residents.
The setup of a limited number of testing centres around the country. These are too far from where they are needed. (a) There should have been more, smaller centres in car parks in major conurbations. (b) There should have been many squads of testers sent to all care homes and hospitals not near the centres so that all workers could be tested quickly. The squads covering many institutions in a day.
The government claims to be following medical/scientific advice, if so it is inadequate. From the beginning experts in virology and epidemiology have said in the media that the governments measures were not adequate, did not follow WHO advice and did not follow the successful measures introduced in China and South Korea. The Chief Scientific advisor said at the start that the UK would follow its own plan seeming to display some arrogance that we could do better that other countries. Weird-1: the references to getting herd immunity, suggesting they were prepared to let many die unnecessarily to achieve that end. Weird-2: The psychological advice that people would not obey the ‘lockdown’ for more than about 3 weeks. So they would rather disobey, get the virus and die or cause others to die. Where is the published evidence about people asked to stay indoors because of a real lethal threat and their response measured? The Chief Medical & Scientific advisors do not appear to have consulted widely enough to come to sound conclusions. The Health Secretary may find it easy to rebuff Keir Starmer’s challenge and refer to advice received but he does not address the comments from the experts who have indicated the strategic errors in the UK’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is now clear that countries that did follow the WHO warning & advice have a much better outcome than the UK.
Since writing this Sonia Sodha has written a similar report for the Guardian/Observer.