UK first European country to pass 150,000 covid deaths 

January 10, 2022 - 12:4

TEHRAN- Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, more than 150,000 people have died in the UK; that according to government figures.

But experts say the true figure is much higher and that separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been at least 174,000 deaths registered in the UK where coronavirus was mentioned on the death certificate.

The handling of the pandemic in the UK has been a matter of major discussion. Especially when certain factors are take into consideration; for instance the wealth of the country or that there are no sanctions imposed depriving Britain from receiving vital medical supplies such as the case in other places. 

Yet at the start of the pandemic, the UK was finding it extremely difficult to even get its hands-on personal protective equipment (PPE) for medics treating COVID-19 patients. This posed a major risk to doctors and other front line medical personnel working in the most riskiest hospitals. 

National Health Service staff died as a result of this government mishandling. The UK was the only European country to have suffered this problem. At one point the British Royal College of Physicians condemned the worsening availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) as “truly terrible”. The college conducted a survey and concluded “we’re living through the darkest times the National Health Service has ever faced and this survey shows the reality of the situation facing hospital doctors at the moment”

The consensus in Britain of the government’s handling of the pandemic can be summed up by the word pathetic.

Amid dire warnings about shortages in PPE and acting in desperation, the government pressured Turkey into delivering the medical kits and sent a number of military Royal Air Force planes to Ankara to bring the shipment. 

It later emerged that all of the 400,000 protective gowns that eventually arrived had been seized by UK customs because they believed the gowns did not fit UK standards.

A year-long public inquiry by members of parliament found Downing Street’s response to the pandemic was “one of the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced.”

The reports documents dozens of failures by the British government that “led to many thousands of deaths which could have been avoided” 
This included simple issues that could have been taken early on. Measures such as advising on social distancing or implementing lockdowns earlier on. This only exacerbated the crisis.

The report highlights the social care sector, including for the elderly in nursing homes and those in child care, as an especially desperate situation where government mismanagement led to avoidable deaths and suffering. Tens of thousands of vulnerable people, many of them the elderly in nursing homes have died because of a lack of government care. 

The lawmakers also said a lack of information, “coupled with staff shortages, a lack of sufficient testing and [personal protective equipment], and the design of care settings to enable communal living hampered isolation and infection control, meant that some care providers were unable to respond to risks as effectively as they should” and this “had devastating and preventable repercussions for people receiving care and their families and put staff providing social care at risk”.

According to the 151-page investigation the UK was among the first countries to develop a test for Covid, but London “squandered” its lead and “converted it into one of permanent crisis”. The report notes that the consequences were profound saying “for a country with a world-class expertise in data analysis, to face the biggest health crisis in 100 years with virtually no data to analyze was an almost unimaginable setback.”

Until today, Coronavirus deaths are only registered as such (by government data) if the patient dies of the disease within 28 days of having been infected with the virus. 

So if a patient had contracted COVID-19 29 days ago, they are not registered as having died of the virus despite the fact they may well have done so. 

In October last year, a key study by members of parliament highlighted multiple incompetencies in the way the government and its scientific advisors handled the pandemic. 

Among the key findings, the MPs report said:

The UK was not prepared for the Covid pandemic as plans were too “narrowly and inflexibly based on a flu model” that failed to learn the lessons from Sars, Mers and Ebola.

Covid cases in the UK surged at the beginning of March, but it wasn't until March 23 that Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a lockdown.
There was a false belief that the public would not accept lockdown, or would only do so for a short period of time.

The report said government and scientists took "gradual and incremental approach" to introducing measures such as social distancing, isolation and lockdowns, but this was “wrong” and led to a higher death toll.
If social distancing and lockdown was brought in early, it “would have bought much-needed time” for vaccine research to begin, for Covid treatments to be developed. 

Then comes the issue of herd immunity, an idea which the government seriously considered and only scrapped following a public backlash and once university professors warned it would kill the elder generation and those with underlying health issues. In essence, government scientist advisors did not treat Covid seriously in the early months. 

While herd immunity was not official government strategy, MPs said, the government adopted a “policy approach of fatalism”, seeking to “only moderate the speed of infection” through the population, rather than seeking to stop its spread altogether.

The MPs said it was only in the days leading up to the March 23 lockdown that people within government and advisers “experienced simultaneous epiphanies that the course the UK was following was wrong, possibly catastrophically so”.

MPs said “deficiencies in both scientific advice and government action” meant there was no real information about how far the virus had spread and authorities did not fully understand the role of asymptomatic transmission.

Little was done to halt the transmission of the virus from abroad. The border controls in the first few months of 2020 were described as “light-touch” and were implemented only on countries with high Covid rates, even though 33% of cases during the first wave were introduced from Spain and 29% from France.

MPs said more could have been done to reduce the spread of Covid before the second lockdown on November 5. More stringent social distancing measures in autumn could have “reduced the seeding of the Alpha variant across the country, slowed its spread and therefore have saved lives”.

The “regional tier system” that began in mid-October as confusing for the public, MPs said. Furthermore, it was not “watertight” enough to prevent infection spreading.

The report noted that minorities were hit the hardest. There were “unacceptably high death rates among people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups and those with learning disabilities. The government has yet to properly address this. 

Further criticism from different groups has been levelled at poor government protection for the vulnerable and the elderly living care homes.

Government failures led to thousands of elderly people dying in care homes. Meanwhile, the government did not focus enough on social care, the report says “social care had a less prominent voice in government during the early stages of the pandemic than did the NHS”.

Those are some of the findings of the latest key inquiry into the government’s mishandling of the Pandemic. Yet It also celebrates some aspects of the government’s covid response, such as the vaccine rollout. 

However, any praise for the government handling has been met with widespread anger, especially by the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group, who say if a report finds the deaths of 150,000 people being “redeemed” by a vaccine rollout, then “the report … is laughable and more interested in political arguments about whether you can bring laptops to Cobra meetings than it is in the experiences of those who tragically lost parents, partners or children to Covid-19. This is an attempt to ignore and gaslight bereaved families, who will see it as a slap in the face”.

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