At a press conference in Downing Street, England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, also admitted that the country had suffered “a bad result”, but the Prime Minister again refused to go. engage in a public inquiry to review the decisions made by the government. over the past year.
Rebuffing calls for an investigation, he said the lessons would be learned at the right time. He announced that there would be “a montage and a permanent memorial to the loved ones we have lost and to commemorate this entire period.”
The PM subsequently sparked an uproar from opposition MPs after he said at a meeting of his own backbench MPs, in remarks he quickly recanted, that the UK’s ‘vaccine success’ was ‘down to the greed of my friends’.
During Briefing No.10, Johnson and Whitty repeated stern warnings about the risk of a third wave of infections in the UK after sharp rises in European countries.
Whitty said there would “certainly be another increase” in Covid cases despite the vaccination schedule, saying there would be “bumps and twists in the road” to come, a hint of the struggles the Kingdom is facing. United was confronted regarding new variants and the looming threat of export. a ban on vaccine supplies.
Johnson said he believed a key mistake was not to appreciate how the disease could spread asymptomatically, while his chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said the lack of testing capacity and data meant the government had lost control of tracking the spread of the virus.
“I think in retrospect there are probably a lot of things we wished we had known and a lot of things we wished we had done differently then because we were fighting a new disease under very different circumstances than any previous government. . never imagined, ”Johnson said.
“Perhaps the biggest false assumption we made was about the potential for asymptomatic transmission, and that governed a lot of policies in the beginning. All this misunderstanding about the reality of asymptomatic transmission has certainly led to real problems which [meant] so we really had to work really hard to catch up.
Although evidence of asymptomatic transmission did not become widely known to the public until March 2020, preliminary evidence was already presented to the government from the end of January.
In the minutes of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) of January 28, it is stated: “There is little evidence of asymptomatic transmission, but early indications suggest that some are occurring. He said Public Health England was investigating the prevalence of such transmission. A fortnight later, he said better tests on travelers would be needed to understand asymptomatic cases.
Johnson declined to say he regrets the decision not to lock down the country earlier, both at the start of the first wave and the second, which he personally strongly opposed.
“All I can say is that we made all decisions with the interests of the British people at the forefront in our hearts and in an effort to protect the public and to avoid death and suffering”, a- he declared. “That’s what we were trying to do at all stages.”
But he again declined to set a date for an investigation, saying only that “there will undoubtedly be a time to properly examine, draw lessons and ensure that we learn them for future pandemics.”
Labor said many mistakes had been made by Johnson and urged him again to order an investigation. “The tragic reality is that we have seen a litany of mistakes from Boris Johnson,” Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth said.
“Public health should have been at the heart of our response from the start, the inability to sufficiently financially support those to be isolated was a monstrous failure, the lack of protection of nursing homes was negligent, contact tracing should have been be community-driven. And years of underfunding and cuts left our NHS vulnerable and exposed when the virus struck. Given the future risks of a pandemic, lessons must be learned – which means that a public inquiry is vital. ”
Vallance said putting in place adequate testing early in the pandemic would have made a significant difference.
“The only thing that I think would have been really important earlier was to have much better data on what was going on. And that would have required the tests to be ready and ready immediately and it would have required the ability to get that information from a source and be able to see it, ”he said.
“We just didn’t have that in the beginning and it was very difficult to know how fast things were going and therefore to make decisions based on real-time data, which we can do now, and it would have done a big difference. ”
Whitty said the UK had “a bad result” but said similar results were seen in many other countries. “What we want to try and do is minimize mortality and learn from the past,” he said.
He said there had been “much less understanding of the extent of the virus in Europe for exactly the same reason … due to the lack of testing in Europe as well as the UK”.
Whitty said the UK now knows the virus has been imported from Spain, France and parts of Italy that were not considered to be particularly high risk. “At the time, we didn’t have that information and it certainly would have led to slightly different approaches to the way we did things,” he said.
He also repeated his warnings that the world was unlikely to eradicate Covid-19 even with mass vaccination. “We have only succeeded in eradicating one disease, which is smallpox, with a vaccine of phenomenal effectiveness over a very long period of time, literally hundreds of years,” he said.
Professor Neil Ferguson, the Imperial College London epidemiologist who gave crucial advice to the government ahead of the first lockdown, said on Tuesday that an investigation is expected to begin in the coming months.
“Frankly, we need an investigation to properly examine both the boards at the time, but also what was going on with the government at the time to resolve the question of why didn’t we lock down a week earlier or two weeks earlier ”mentioned. “With a survey that lasts three years, the risk is that in three years people’s concerns have changed and that it is less likely to influence real change.