The central problem was that Government pandemic plans didn’t prepare us to lock down hard enough and fast enough, former Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told the Covid Inquiry this morning. The Mail has more.
Mr. Hancock lashed out at an “absolutely central problem” with Whitehall planning prior to 2020.
“The attitude, the doctrine of the U.K. was to plan for the consequences of a disaster – can we buy enough body bags, where are we going to bury the dead?” he told the inquiry.
“That was completely wrong. Of course it’s important to have that in case you fail to stop a pandemic but central to pandemic planning is how do you stop the disaster from happening in the first place, how do you suppress the virus?”
Previously, the inquiry has heard how ‘groupthink’ saw Britain spend more time on preparing for a flu pandemic rather than a widespread outbreak of another respiratory disease.
But Mr. Hancock insisted this was “not the main flaw” in U.K. preparations.
“My central point [is] that to say that the main problem with that plan was that it was a flu plan and there was [sic] and we ended up with a coronavirus pandemic is, of course, a flaw, but it is not the central flaw,” he added.
“If we’d had a flu pandemic, we would have had a massive problem because of the doctrinal failure of how to respond to it as well – that was a much bigger error, it was an error across the Western world, but it was a much bigger error and it is absolutely central.” …
The ex-Cabinet minister later said more should have been done to prepare for a lockdown prior to 2020.
He said: “It is central to what we must learn as a country that we’ve got to be ready to hit a pandemic hard: that we’ve got to be able to take action – lockdown action if necessary, that is wider, earlier, more stringent than feels comfortable at the time.
“And the failure to plan for that was a much bigger flaw in the strategy than the fact that it was targeted at the wrong disease.”
He added: ‘The doctrinal flaw was the biggest by a long way because if we’d had a flu pandemic, we still would have had the problem of no plan in place for lockdown, no prep for how to do one, no work on what, how best to lock down with the least damage.
“I understand deeply the consequences of lockdown and the negative consequences for many, many people – many of which persist to this day.”
If this Hancock doctrine becomes the main lesson the Inquiry and others take from COVID-19, we are doomed.