Professor John Ashton, author of Blinded by Corona: How the Pandemic Ruined Britain’s Health and Wealth and What to Do About It, reflects on the government’s Covid-19 response.
The only thing the government got right is the vaccination programme, which is a fantastic success. The government would say it’s managed the pandemic to their own satisfaction, that’s how their assessment would be I think. But meanwhile, there are more than 125,000 deaths, an appalling result.
It’s exactly a year ago this week that we did. But when should we have done and what impact would that have had? Well, there’s two sides to that really.
If we had got on top of testing and tracing at the very beginning, we may not have needed to lock down, and certainly not lock down the whole country at that time. In the end, we locked down too late. What we could have prevented is people who have been going quietly mad, unable to access particularly medical treatment that they need.
The next danger is that people won’t be able to get the medication they need because all resources are being directed to the production of vaccines. There are the kids not going to school, the children have missed out. It is a staggering failure of national governance.
All this could have been handled far better in a non-political way if the government hadn’t been stuck in an ideological echo-chamber. We are now heading into year two of an epidemic caused by a smart virus. It has the ability to create variants that are either deadlier or more infectious.
We need an urgent plan to safeguard the millions of Brits who are unlucky enough to have a serious illness in 2021. The government needs to drop its habit of promoting political appointees and finally get skilled public-health experts on board who know how to handle a pandemic crisis.
Professor John Ashton is a doctor and an academic. He previously held positions at the University of Southampton, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the University of Liverpool School of Medicine and was regional director of Public Health for North-West England for 13 years.
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