Boris Johsnon, U.K. prime minister, departs from number 10 Downing Street in London, U.K., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. U.K. chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak will extend furlough payments to U.K. workers until the end of September, protecting millions of people whose jobs were suspended during the coronavirus pandemic until after restrictions are set to be lifted. Photographer: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg
The U.K.’s initial response to the coronavirus pandemic ranks among the worst public health failures in the country’s history, causing “many thousands” of avoidable deaths, a new report says.
In the first weeks, as the virus began spreading in the U.K., the government chose not to restrict mass gatherings — a radical departure from the lockdowns that China quickly put in place. It was slower to impose widespread lockdowns than the U.S. and many other countries.
Instead, in the U.K., a “fatalism” about the ability to control the virus set in among government officials and scientific advisors, who sought to “manage, but not suppress, infection,” said the new report, which is called“Coronavirus: lessons learned to date.”
“This amounted in practice to accepting that herd immunity by infection was the inevitable outcome,” it said, adding, “It would, however, be an overstatement to say that the Government and its advisers were promoting the acquisition of covid-19 to accelerate herd immunity in the population.”