Daily Mirror

Delay and delay... then slam the lockdown brakes on. They made the same mistakes three times

- BY MARTIN BAGOT Health Editor martin.bagot@mirror.co.uk @MartinBago­t

Frustratin­g to be asked to advise and nothing happened


Should have been done when incidence was low


BRITAIN’S top scientist has blasted the Government’s repeated delays to use lockdowns to “get a grip” on Covid and halt its spread.

Dame Angela McLean told the Covid Inquiry ministers made the same mistake three times by waiting until the NHS was crumbling to act.

She said: “We waited until the last possible moment, delay and delay. Then we had to slam the brakes on as hard as possible, with all the social and economic costs.”

The Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser said using shorter “circuit-breaker” lockdowns earlier would have saved lives.

And Dame Angela – Sir Patrick Vallance’s deputy during Covid, who succeeded him in February – told the inquiry the Cabinet ignored advice. At a September 25, 2020 meeting attended by Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, she said SAGE advised a fortnight circuit-breaker lockdown with schools kept open – but was ignored.

And SAGE warned of half a million deaths without a lockdown, Dame Angela said, adding: “I couldn’t understand why we weren’t [trying] harder to prevent a second autumn wave.”

At that time, just 7% had been infected but Covid had contribute­d to 50,000 deaths. The hearing saw a message Dame Angela sent Sir Patrick before the meeting saying: “Does it fit your plan if I rock up and say ‘RWCS [reasonable worst case scenario] assumes someone gets a grip at this stage’.”

Dame Angela said a second autumn wave was foreseeabl­e “for the simple reason that virtually nobody had had it [Covid]”. She added: “It was frustratin­g for us to have been asked to advise the Government… so we said, ‘You should do something now’. And nothing happened.”

The Government waited until November 5, 2020 to order a second national lockdown. By then, there were 600 daily Covid deaths. Dame Angela told the inquiry yesterday that this was a “terrible moment”. She added: “All of these things should have been done in September while incidence was low, when we could have kept it low.” There was eventually a third national lockdown in January 2021.

Dame Angela also said then-Chancellor Mr Sunak’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which she blames for raising infections, came as a surprise in July 2020. If asked, she said, she would have encouraged finding some other way to stimulate the economy.

 ?? ?? WITNESS Dame Angela yesterday
WITNESS Dame Angela yesterday
 ?? ?? TOP JOB Patrick Vallance
TOP JOB Patrick Vallance

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